A 96-year-old woman being patted down by TSA agents. Picture: Facebook/Jeanne LaBrier Clarkson
A 96-year-old woman being patted down by TSA agents. Picture: Facebook/Jeanne LaBrier Clarkson

Security search of elderly woman sparks outrage

A 96-YEAR-OLD wheelchair-bound woman claims she never wants to fly again after she was subjected to a 'prolonged' security pat-down at a US airport, in a confronting video that has amassed nine million views.

Outraged social media users have expressed their fury over the 'unnecessary' search, which was filmed by the daughter of the elderly woman, who can be heard saying: 'what the hell do you think she's going to do? Set off a shoe bomb?'

Jeanne Clarkson, who posted the video of her mother Evelyn LaBrier on Facebook, told CBS News the six-minute-long screening happened at Dulles Airport in Washington.

"I was just shocked. I've travelled with her before, I've been in a wheelchair myself unable to walk through the machines and I've never had that kind of a pat-down ever," Ms Clarkson said.

"I was just shocked. I couldn't believe they were doing this to my 96-year-old mother. It was just shock, and frustration because they would not talk to me. I felt helpless."

In the footage, a Transportation Security Administration officer is seen searching the elderly woman and manovuering her arms.

As the search began another TSA officer can be seen stepping in front of Ms Clarkson's phone camera and blocking her view.

"It was just like, how can they get away with this?"

Washington Dulles Airport addressed the controversy on Facebook.

"She didn't know what to say. She does not want to fly again ever," Ms Clarkson added.

"She didn't know what they were looking for. She was scared.

"She was just following directions. She said she didn't know what to do."

The backlash was largely on the side of Ms Clarkson and her mother, with one user saying: "This was a 96 year old woman, who was searched repeatedly over and over. I think my concern would have been to treat this elderly woman more kindly with Compassion, not subjecting her to this uncalled body search.'

Another said: 'That lady looked like she was going to cry!! That is BEYOND harassment... to give her bad memories like that!'

However there were some people who thought the incident had been blown out of proportion.

'I know I will probably receive a lot of backlash, but it seemed to me that they treated her with nothing but respect. Their job is to keep people safe. And sometimes that includes searching people,' a Facebook user wrote.