INDIANAPOLIS -- A man's attempt to bring the ashes of his grandfather home to Indianapolis ended with an angry scene in a Florida airport, with the ashes spilled on the terminal floor.
John Gross, a resident of Indianapolis' south side, was leaving Florida with the remains of his grandfather -- Mario Mark Marcaletti, a Sicilian immigrant who worked for the Penn Central Railroad in central Indiana -- in a tightly sealed jar marked "Human Remains."
Gross said he didn't think he'd have a problem, until he ran into a TSA agent at the Orlando airport.
"They opened up my bag, and I told them, 'Please, be careful. These are my grandpa's ashes,'" Gross told RTV6's Norman Cox. "She picked up the jar. She opened it up.
"I was told later on that she had no right to even open it, that they could have used other devices, like an X-ray machine. So she opened it up. She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it."
Gross says about a quarter to a third of the contents spilled on the floor, leaving him frantically trying to gather up as much as he could while anxious passengers waited behind him.
"She didn't apologize. She started laughing. I was on my hands and knees picking up bone fragments. I couldn't pick up all, everything that was lost. I mean, there was a long line behind me."
TSA rules say a crematory container in carry-on baggage must pass through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint.
But the agency's own website says human remains are to be opened under, “no circumstances.”
"I want an apology,” said Gross. “I want an apology from TSA. I want an apology from the lady who opened the jar and laughed at me. I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this."