For most families, especially ones with small children, a trip to Disney World is a positive experience. The children get to see the characters they’ve enjoyed watching in cartoons and movies, and there are areas made specifically for the parents too. That’s most likely what Nathan Forck and his wife Annie had in mind when they planned a vacation for their family. The family, Nathan, Annie, and their three children, were heading to Disney World on Feb. 9, 2013 out of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The problems started with Transportation Security Administration, TSA, after the family had already made it through the TSA checkpoint.
Nathan and Annie’s three-year-old daughter, Lucy, is confined to a wheelchair and has Spina bifida. After making it through the TSA checkpoint without any issues, the Forck family prepared to walk to their gate. Lucy was pulled aside for “additional screening measures”. “They specifically told me that they were singling her out for this special treatment because she’s in a wheelchair,” Nathan told Fox News. “They are specifically singling out disabled people for this special scrutiny. It’s rather offensive to me as a father of a disabled child.” The TSA agent stated they needed to pat Lucy down and swab her wheelchair.
Annie started filming the TSA agent who was treating her daughter like a terrorist. The TSA agent lied to the Forck family and told them it was illegal to videotape what they were doing. Nathan is an attorney and knew it was legal to record the TSA. “It’s your worst nightmare,” Forck said. “It’s bad enough they are demanding they want to pat down my child and didn’t want me to videotape it. That set off alarm bells.” Annie refused to stop recording and TSA agents, including one who was assigned to “guard” three-year-old Lucy, quickly surrounded the family.
Lucy’s stuffed animal, “Lamby”, a six-inch stuffed lamb, was confiscated by the TSA and the young, frightened girl started crying. TSA agents began discussing what they were going to do to Lucy, and she began weeping uncontrollably. “I don’t want to go to Disney Word,” the three-year-old screamed as her parents tried to tell her everything would be okay.
Nathan could not understand why the TSA did not want the pat-down to be filmed. “Just because you slap a TSA badge on – I don’t know this person – and they’re going to be putting their hands on my child,” he said. He stated that if someone had come up to his daughter outside of the airport and attempted to do this, they would be in jail. “But you put a TSA badge on and now all of a sudden it’s okay,” he said.
After about thirty minutes, the Forck family was rescreened and allowed to continue their trip to Disney World. Nathan stated that Lucy made it through the TSA checkpoint in Orlando with no problems. “We are not unreasonable people,” Nathan said. “But to say you are going to do a bodily search with no probable cause whatsoever – just because she is in a wheelchair – that was offensive.” Lucy was also reunited with Lamby.
Update: 2/20/2013: via RightThisMinute
RightThisMinute has a video update to the story after TSA released its statement: “TSA regrets inaccurate guidance was provided to this family during screening and offers its apology.”
RightThisMinute also spoke to Lucy’s father, Nathan Forck, to deliver the news of TSA’s statement and he responded, “They basically addressed the two things we had a problem with head on, really, and now it’s just a matter of sharing it with other people so they know the proper procedures and know what they should expect from the TSA. We’re very pleased that they put out that statement! We’re very happy!”
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