Family Says it was Violated After TSA Mishandles Son's Remains

By KBJR News 1

Family Says it was Violated After TSA Mishandles Son's Remains

April 30, 2012 Updated Apr 30, 2012 at 9:38 PM CST

Duluth, MN - (Northland's NewsCenter) - Less than two weeks after experiencing a tragic loss, a family with ties to Duluth says they also suffered an unimaginable violation at the hands of airport security.

Ira Whitmore of Duluth lost his brother Eli on April 13Th from a drug overdose.

They had just moved into together five days before the tragedy struck.

"He has the potential to be whatever he wanted to be...very educated, very smart, very outgoing, very personable...it's been hard, it really has," Ira Whitmore says.

After the funeral, Eli's mother, Denise Whitmore picked up Eli's remains, and checked in the urn at Minneapolis St. Paul Airport when a TSA agent took out the box from her luggage.

"The bag is brought over and they start taking out my clothes and setting them aside and then they reach inside and grab the remains," says Denise Whitmore.

Denise says agents began swabbing it for drugs and flipping it around... even though Whitmore was carrying the proper documentation.

"It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. It was devastating," says Denise Whitmore.

The family wishes things would have been handled differently and in a more respectful manor.

"They could have had some discrepancy, maybe pulled her aside into another room and asked if that was okay, say I'm sorry for your loss. They didn't check the paperwork which they should have done in the first place," says Ira Whitmore.

Whitmore says his family is hurt by the lack of sensitivity shown and hopes no other family has to experience that pain.

"I'm personally hurt about it, my family has suffered a great loss because of this and I know it was hard for my mom to see and go through. I feel like they could have gone about it in a better way than what they did... it was just completely disrespectful," says Ira Whitmore.

The TSA released a statement saying the officer followed proper procedure, and never tried to open the box holding the remains.
Whitmore says his mother is planning to file a complaint with the Airport to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.

Danyel Piecek
dpiecek@northlandsnewscenter.com

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