Parents criticize TSA for handling of girl in a wheelchair

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by JASON WHITELY

WFAA

Posted on December 14, 2012 at 4:06 PM

WILLS POINT - Tammy Daniels said TSA screeners never used common sense after detecting a trace of explosives on the hands of her 12-year-old daughter, who uses a wheelchair.

"It's okay, you didn't do anything wrong, we're going to get you on your way," an official said to Shelbi Walser, 12, as she cried on a video her mother recorded.

"I was just scared, because I didn't know what they were going to do," Walser told News 8.

The girl suffers from brittle bone disease and was flying to Tampa, Florida, for treatment on Sunday. But the TSA detained her in Terminal A of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport after randomly selecting her for an explosives test.

When a screener swabbed Walser's palms and fingers, Daniels said her daughter tested positive for explosives.

"It could have come off fertilizer, because we have chickens. I could have run through something from them," Walser said. "It could have just come off the ground, because I roll through everything."

Daniels said she couldn't comfort her crying daughter because screeners ordered her to keep back during the hour it took bomb experts to settle the situation.

"I am by no means undermining our safety in the air. After 9/11, by no means am I doing that," Daniels added. "But when it comes to children, common sense is not in a textbook."

She said the TSA checked and cleared her and all their carry-ons, but never tested the wheelchair, which likely transferred the substance to Walser's hands as she pushed it.

But the TSA defended itself in a statement to News 8.

"We are sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA through a variety of channels," the TSA statement read. "We work to balance those concerns with the very real threat that our adversaries will attempt to use explosives to carry out attacks on planes."

Despite the delay, Shelbi and her mom made the flight, but said the TSA made it an embarrassing experience.

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