Published June 26, 2011
An elderly woman in the late-stages of leukemia was forced to undergo 45 minutes of additional screenings last Saturday when she tried to board a flight out of Northwest Florida Regional Airport, her daughter told FoxNews.com
Lena Reppert, 95, was to say her final goodbyes to her daughter before she made what would most likely be her last flight to her native Michigan. After eight years of battling leukemia, doctors say she doesn’t have much time to live.
“She said she wanted to be closer to her grave,” Jean Weber, her daughter, told FoxNews.com. “I knew it would probably be the last time I ever see her.”
But when Reppert made it to the check-in line, Transportation Security Association agents singled her out because she was in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs require other security measures to be employed since they don’t go through metal detectors.
“So they brought my mom to the side, and two agents just started patting her,” Reppert said. “Eventually they found something that appeared to be hard and they said could be a concealed weapon.”
She said two female agents wheeled her mom into a private room where they performed a more thorough inspection, and found that Reppert was wearing a Depend adult diaper.
“It was hard because the underwear was bunched up,” Weber said, adding that she was not in the room as her mother was patted.
After 45 minutes, the mother and daughter were given two options: either don't fly, or lose the Depend. The women chose the latter.
“I ran with her to the bathroom and stripped her down,” Weber recalled. “I got back to the line and just started bawling.”
Weber said the emotional toll was too much. From perhaps seeing her mother for what could be the last time, to having to see her mother go through all the security measures, “I just cried and said, ‘Please can you let her through, she’s just so sick,” she said.
The TSA said in a statement to Fox News that at "no instance" would an officer ask a passenger to remove an adult diaper. The TSA would not disclose further information about this particular passenger, but said all protocols were followed.
“While every person and item must be screened before entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner," the statement read. "We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure.”
Reppert eventually made her flight by two minutes, her daughter said, but the departure was bitter sweet.
“It was tough to say goodbye after all of that,” Weber said. “But she’s at peace, and she’s a good Christian woman. They’ll be waiting for her up there in Heaven.”