The Transportation Security Administration has apologized to a Missouri family after a troubling video of agents detaining a toddler in a wheelchair was posted on YouTube.
According to St. Louis-based news site Daily RFT, 3-year-old Lucy Forck and her family were on their way to catch a flight to Disney World, in Orlando, Fla., when the child was stopped by TSA agents at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for additional security checks.
The agents allegedly took the little girl's stuffed animal away before trying to pat her down. They also told the family that they would need to conduct a "wheelchair swab." As can be seen in this video, a traumatized Lucy then began to sob, saying through tears that she no longer wanted to go to Disney World.
"This is about the worst situation you can imagine," Nathan Forck, Lucy's father, told the Daily RFT. "It just broke my heart."
Lucy, who uses a hot-pink wheelchair to move around, has spina bifida. She was born with part of her spinal cord exposed on her back.
As the confrontation between the Forck family and the TSA officers became increasingly heated, Lucy's mother Annie decided to videotape the exchange. "You can't touch my daughter unless I can record it," she is heard saying in the video, which she later posted on YouTube.
"It's illegal to do that," an agent replied.
According to Fox affiliate KDVR-TV, Lucy was ultimately not patted down. Instead, the child was carried by her parents, while her wheelchair was inspected.
After about 30 minutes, the family -- traveling with two other young daughters -- was allowed to go on their way.
“They treated [Lucy] like a criminal,” the toddler's dad, an attorney who works with the elderly and disabled, said in an interview with Fox News. “And by extension they were treating us as criminals.”
Over the weekend, the clip capturing Lucy's ordeal was posted on YouTube by her family. Since then, it has been watched over 135,000 times.
In response, the TSA issued an apology this week, admitting that its agents behaved inappropriately during the incident.
“TSA regrets inaccurate guidance was provided to this family during screening and offers its apology,” a TSA spokesman told Fox News, adding that it is acceptable for passengers to film TSA procedures as long as the screening process is not interfered with.
Citing information found on the TSA website, the New York Daily News noted that it is part of TSA policy to pat down passengers who use wheelchairs and to check their wheelchairs. However, the website also notes that "parents or guardians may offer suggestions on the best way to approach and screen" children with disabilities.
"I guess everyone else takes the TSA’s scrutiny for granted, but we wanted to speak up and say that it doesn’t have to be like this,” Lucy's dad told the Daily News.
The Forck family says they don't plan on taking legal action against the TSA and insist that they don't want the agents responsible to lose their jobs. Instead, Lucy's parents say they hope that by sharing their experience, they will encourage others to speak up if they feel their rights are being impinged upon by TSA agents.
The family also told ABC News that they hope agents will receive more training to prevent incidents that like this from happening again.
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