TSA officials pushed back Tuesday against accusations that they mishandled the cremated remains of the mother of New York Giants player A.J. Francis, saying the container “was carefully repacked” by agents who inspected his checked luggage.
Francis blasted the security agency in his tweet: “Next time you . . . feel the need to go thru my mother’s ashes for no reason, make sure you close it back so her remains aren’t spilled on all my clothes.”
But TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Tuesday that video footage of the inspection shows that TSA agents were not aware that the container inside Francis’s bag contained cremated remains. And they weren’t responsible for the spill, she said.
“Video review of the screening of Mr. Francis’ checked bag at Los Angeles International Airport shows that it alarmed for an unidentified object,” Farbstein said. “A TSA officer discovered the unidentified object was an opened, unmarked ceramic container, wrapped in tin foil inside a small bag. Upon further inspection of the checked bag, the container was loosely packaged, unmarked and the contents unknown to the TSA officer.”
“The TSA officer completed screening of the checked bag, clearing it to continue to its destination,” Farbstein said. “The container was carefully repacked and placed in the bag.”
Farbstein added that “TSA officers are trained to treat all travelers’ belongings with care and respect.”
On Monday, after Francis tweeted about the experience, TSA tweeted an apology and offered condolences for the loss of his mother, Carrie Leanne Francis, who died unexpectedly two weeks ago.
1: We're very sorry to hear about this. We understand the emotional stress travelers are under when transporting the remains of a loved one. Our policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity, respect and courtesy.— AskTSA (@AskTSA) July 9, 2018
Francis was still upset, however, about how the incident was handled.
Francis has not spoken to the media about the incident. He tweeted Monday that it was all still “very raw.”