Home Top Stories TSA Searches 3-year-old in Wheelchair, Video Shot in 2010

TSA Searches 3-year-old in Wheelchair, Video Shot in 2010

By Todd Starnes/TWITTER

The Transportation Security Administration said a viral video that shows a three-year-old child in a wheelchair subjected to a thorough examination occurred almost two years ago — prior to the agency’s modified screening measures for passengers under the age of 12.


The incident occurred in the spring of 2010 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. It was filmed by Matt Dubiel, the child’s father. He told Fox News that his family was on their way to Disney World when they were stopped at a security checkpoint. He posted on YouTube over the weekend and has since gone viral.

“I didn’t think I had the footage,” Dubiel told Fox News. “They didn’t want me to record it with our regular camera. They made me put the cameras away but they allowed me to maintain with my iPhone.”

Dubiel said he decided to post the video after he rediscovered the footage over the weekend.

“I watched the video with my 10-year-old and my heart starting beating real fast, I started getting angry – a rash of emotions and then I had to explain to my 10-year-old what was happening and why I allowed it to happen.”

A TSA spokesman released a statement saying incident occurred prior to their modified screening procedures for passengers under the age of 12.  The alternative screening measures include allowing children to leave their shoes on, permitting multiple passes through the walk through metal detetor, greater use of  explosives trace detection, as well as multiple attempts to capture a clear image during advanced imaging technology screening.

The new measures have “greatly reduced, though not eliminated, pat-downs of children,” TSA said. 

“While recognizing that terrorists are willing to manipulate societal norms to evade detection, our officers continue to work with parents to ensure a respectful screening process for the entire family at the checkpoint,” TSA said in a prepared statement.

The video footage shows the little boy sitting in a wheelchair with a cast on his leg. Dubiel said he was not allowed to touch or come near his son during the search. However, he did videotape most of the search.

 “My little boy wanted me to come over to hold his hand and give him a hug,” Dubiel wrote in commentary embedded in the video. “He was trembling with fear.”

“Instead, we had to pretend this was ‘ok’ so he didn’t panic,” he wrote.

He can be heard reassuring his son through the ordeal – which lasted for more than three minutes. At one point, the agent swabbed the wheelchair, the child’s cast, the child’s hands and even made the boy lift up his shirt.

“I was livid at this point,” the father wrote. “I’m asking myself, ‘Why the (explicative deleted) isn’t someone with a brain coming over to waive him through?’ Someone in a position of authority needs to make the obvious decision this child is not a threat – right? You are swabbing a three-year-olds hands for explosives? Seriously? Seriously?”

Dubiel, who is the general manager of radio station WJJG in Illinois, said reaction has been mixed.

“Some people have said I’m a bad parent for allowing that to happen to my child,” he said. “Most people focus on my son and the experience that he was clearly going through. He was physically trembling.”

Dubiel said he did not file a formal complaint with the TSA.

Watch the video below: