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Video of TSA agents searching 96-year-old woman in wheelchair sparks outrage

TSA agents search 96-year-old woman in wheelchair
TSA agents search 96-year-old woman in wheelchair 00:29

Nearly 9 million people have watched the video -- and many have weighed-in about the security pat-down of a 96-year-old woman in a wheelchair. The screening happened at Dulles Airport in Washington. 

The woman's daughter complained that the 6-minute search was quote "prolonged and repetitive."

A woman can be heard criticizing the TSA agents in the video. "What the hell do you think she's going to do? Set off a shoe bomb?" she asks. 

"I was just shocked.  I've traveled with her before, I've been in a wheelchair myself unable to walk through the machines and I've never had that kind of a pat-down ever.  I was just shocked. I couldn't believe they were doing this to my 96-year-old mother," Jeanne Clarkson told CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave. "It was just shock, and frustration because they would not talk to me. I felt helpless."

My 96 year old mother being extensively searched by TSA

The 3 of us were all in wheelchairs. Only my 96 year old mother was subjected to this prolonged, repetitive search.

Posted by Jeanne LaBrier Clarkson on Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Clarkson says she, her fiancé and Evelyn LaBrier were traveling back home to Anderson, Indiana after visiting her son in Maryland. The TSA screener was polite and explained what was happening during the search which included a pat-down of LaBrier's chest and pelvis region.

Clarkson, shot the video and can be heard on the tape expressing frustration and concern over the what was occurring.

As the search began another TSA officer can be seen stepping in front of Clarkson's cell phone camera and blocking her view of LaBrier.

"It was just like, how can they get away with this?"

Washington Dulles Airport posted on its Facebook Page, "Many of you have reached out to us to express concern over a video of a security screening taking place at Dulles International Airport. Security screening at our checkpoints is directed and conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). We have shared customer comments with the TSA for their immediate review and appropriate action."

Many of you have reached out to us to express concern over a video of a security screening taking place at Dulles...

Posted by Washington Dulles International Airport on Thursday, May 24, 2018

In a statement to CBS News, the agency says "TSA is committed to ensuring the security of travelers, while treating all passengers with dignity and respect. In this instance, the TSA officer provided advisements during the pat-down and was extremely polite. The passenger was very cooperative and gave no indication that she was agitated or in discomfort. She received a pat-down and was cleared for her flight."

"She didn't know what to say. She does not want to fly again ever. She didn't know what they were looking for. She was scared," Clarkson said of her mother. "She was just following directions. She said she didn't know what to do."

A TSA spokesman says it appears the screener followed procedure and pointed to a two-minute video that explains what a flyer in a wheelchair can expect at a checkpoint including a pat-down, but the pat-down shown in the video lasts about 15 seconds.

Adding to the family's frustration, their late night flight to Indianapolis was canceled, stranding them overnight at Dulles.

Clarkson says no one from the TSA has contacted the family directly, adding her mother still asks, "why did they do that to me?"

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