A three-year-old girl who suffers from spina bifida was reduced to tears by TSA screeners on her way to a family vacation in Florida earlier this month. Annie Forck, the mother of little Lucy Forck, recorded the incident at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport with her cell phone, despite the TSA's orders that she desist. According to Lucy's father Nathan Forck, it all started when the TSA pulled Lucy aside for additional screening, including a "pat down" and "wheelchair swab."
That was bad enough, but then they took away "Lamby," Lucy's stuffed animal, causing her to burst in to tears. And that's when little Lucy Forck became the first child in the history of the world to utter the words, "I don’t want to go to Disney World." Her father tells the Daily News, "It was the first time we traveled anywhere together as a family. I guess everyone else takes the TSA’s scrutiny for granted, but we wanted to speak up and say that it doesn’t have to be like this."
Because of her medical condition, Lucy's spinal cord is exposed at the small of her back. Nathan Forck says he was concerned about TSA agents hurting his daughter during the pat down; in an interview with the Riverfront Times, he says he told the TSA screener, "You're not going to put your hand on my child without probable cause. Because she is in a wheelchair, we have to pat her down? That's discrimination against a disabled person—to just single her out for special treatment because she is disabled."
During the dispute, Lucy's mother was ordered—incorrectly, it turns out—to stop recording the search. She replied, "The problem is, I don’t allow anyone to touch my little daughter,” Annie said on the video. “It just seems ominous for you guys to suggest that you have to do this in the dark. That in and of itself seems very inappropriate."
A TSA spokesperson now says the agents were wrong to tell Lucy's mother to stop filming, because it's perfectly legal to film TSA agents as long as it doesn't interfere with their work. "TSA regrets inaccurate guidance was provided to this family during screening and offers its apology,” the TSA said in a statement. “We are committed to maintaining the security of the traveling public and strive to treat all passengers with dignity and respect. While no pat-down was performed, we will address specific concerns with our workforce."
After about 45 minutes of bad air, the TSA agents finally relented and agreed to search Lucy's wheelchair separately without her in it. Afterward, the TSA also admitted that trying to pat down a child this young was highly unusual. Lucy's father tells the Riverfront Times, "Our goal was to draw people's attention to it—to effect change. They apologized and said what they did was wrong." And in the end, Lucy got her Lamby back and changed her mind about not going to Disney World: