Heidi Wright is living proof it is easier to survive a stroke than making it past a callous TSA agent at Los Angeles International airport (LAX).
Because of her condition, Heidi needs a wheelchair to move and cannot write or speak. At the beginning of April, the paralysed woman was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Phoenix, where she was to meet her new carer.
Heidi did not make past security at Los Angeles airport. A callous TSA agent questioned Heidi’s papers. "I showed her ID, her social and her DMV papers," Heidi’s sister, Sherry, told Eyewitness News.
The agent, who had been made aware of Heidi’s condition, went on questioning the woman. “Heidi, say your name. OK, since you can't say your name, write your name.” Unable to obtain an answer, the TSA agent denied Heidi Wright access to the departures hall.
The Transportation Security Administration issued a statement saying Heidi’s family should have contacted TSA Cares.
The woman’s sister says she has phone records to show she did reach out to TSA and heard a recorded message. “We tried calling the hotline and heard the same recording,” Heidi’s sister said. TSA said they have no record of these calls.
Heidi Wright travelled from Los Angeles to Phoenix by bus, reaching her destination after eight gruelling hours.
Disability awareness training of Transportation Security Administration agents has been questioned in the past. In 2012, a Long Island family missed their flight from JFK Airport in New York to Florida after a Transport Security Agency representative picked on Dina Frank, a disabled seven-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Because of her inability to walk through the metal detectors without setting alarms off, Dina was subjected to an intrusive pat down by TSA security agents.
The agency did not apologize. "TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper screening procedures in conducting a modified pat down on the child," TSA said in a statement that shows TSA’s limited empathy towards disability.