Oh come on, TSA!
The Transportation Security Administration is coming under fire this week after an incident Saturday morning at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport where they forbid a nine-year-old from flying because they were concerned about his pacemaker!!
Chille Bergstrom was born with Golden Hars Syndrome; the brave little boy has already endured 15 (!) open-heart surgeries in his young life and must live with a pacemaker.
Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped him one bit — the cool little kid flies quite a bit, he’s traveled a lot, and he wants to be a pilot when he grows up one day! Cool!!
It’s for that reason, then, that his mother Ali knows to get special alternative screening every time they fly — after all, with the pacemaker and all of Chille’s equipment, it takes a bit longer than usual to go through security at the airport since he can’t use a metal detector.
But when he and his mother showed up in Phoenix to get screened on Saturday, bad news awaited them.
Ali told Fox 9 about it:
“We were told immediately by the TSA that he was not allowed to be screened alternatively and instead would need an exemption. With all the years that we’ve been flying this has never happened.”
The Wyoming, Minnesota family was out of town, so they couldn’t just go home — but as bad as the initial news may have been, things were about to get a whole lot worse.
“[I was] shocked beyond belief. In walks the head of the Department of Homeland Security for the entire airport, followed by other supervisors, and managers with ten other people from TSA.”
At that point, Chille jumps in, telling reporters:
“And four police officers. With everything, guns, Tasers, all that.”
FOR A NINE YEAR OLD WITH A PACEMAKER?!?!
It goes from bad to worse, though, because not only were things completely whacked out with the screening, the TSA agents were allegedly demeaning to the Bergstroms. Also, Ali pointed out they literally accused Chille of being a possible terrorist:
“One of the TSA agents told me they’d prevented terrorist attacks using nine-year-old boys with pacemakers and children before, so I laughed and said, ├óΓé¼╦£Oh when?’ At that point, the TSA agent became very quiet and said, ├óΓé¼╦£Oh we’re not at liberty to discuss this.'”
Ha!!! Sure you have, TSA, sure you have.
To his own credit, Chille handled it like more of an adult than the TSA did, as he explained:
“I said, could you please explain to me what’s happening right now? Because I’m not used to this. It was very scary. I thought it was my fault.”
When the TSA informed the family they wouldn’t be flying that day, that was the low point — because Ali has long tried to instill in Chille that pacemaker or not, he’s really not that different:
“Because he has been reared with this pacemaker I always tried to empower him. This was the first time I’d ever heard him talk like this. He woke up with nightmares on Saturday night and on Sunday night.”
For their part, the TSA released a statement to the media through their spokesman Nico Melendez, who said:
“TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. TSA is reviewing Saturday’s incident and working to contact the family.”
But Ali says it’s all a crock:
“TSA has not contacted me. No one has apologized. No one has reached out.”
“I don’t want an exemption, I want to go through an alternate screening like I always do. He sat on my lap, crying for an hour, as we were surrounded by 18 TSA and police and were actually told by the TSA that ‘some terrorist plots use children with pacemakers.'”
Chille, though, gets the last word here:
“They should be fired for treating heart kids like this. They were so mean and lied and wouldn’t swipe my hands for over an hour! It was really terrible. The representative said ├óΓé¼╦£We will find you and apologize,’ and you know what they did? They did the exact opposite.”
Kid, you are awesome.
[Image via FOX 9.]