85-year-old says she was strip searched at JFK

NEW YORK — An 85-year-old New York grandmother said Saturday she was injured and humiliated when she was strip searched at an airport after she asked to be patted down instead of going through a body scanner.

Lenore Zimmerman said she was taken to a private room and made to take off her pants and other clothes after she asked to forgo the screening because she worried it would interfere with her defibrillator. She missed her flight and had to take one two-and-a-half hours later, she said.

“I’m hunched over. I’m in a wheelchair. I weigh under 110 pounds (50 kilograms),” she said from her winter home at seniors community in Coconut Creek, Florida.

She added, “Do I look like a terrorist? This was the worst experience.”

But the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement Saturday no strip search was conducted.

“While we regret that the passenger feels she had an unpleasant screening experience, TSA does not include strip searches as part of our security protocols and one was not conducted in this case,” the statement read.

Zimmerman was dropped off by her son at Kennedy Airport for a 1 p.m. flight Tuesday to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on JetBlue, she said. She arrived at the ticket counter around 12:20 p.m. and headed for security in a wheelchair, her small, metal walker in her lap.

She’s been traveling to Florida for at least a decade and has never had a problem being patted down until now, she said. “I worry about my heart, so I don’t want to go through those things,” she said referring to the advanced image technology screening machines now in place at the airport.

As a result, she said she was taken into the private screening room by one agent and made to strip.

A review of closed-circuit television at the airport showed proper procedures were followed, Jonathan Allen, a TSA spokesman, said in a statement.

“Private screening was requested by the passenger, it was granted and lasted approximately 11 minutes,” the statement read. “TSA screening procedures are conducted in a manner designed to treat all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy and that occurred in this instance.”

The private screening was not recorded.

Zimmerman, who spends half the year in Long Beach, New York, said she banged her shin during the process and it bled “like a pig,” partly because she is on blood-thinning medication. She said an emergency medical technician patched her up, but she was told to see a doctor when she arrived in Florida to make sure the wound didn’t get infected. There are no records indicating medical attention was called on her behalf.

“I don’t know what triggered this. I don’t know why they singled me out,” she said.

Her son Bruce Zimmerman said he’d like to see someone fired, and screeners re-trained after his mother’s ordeal.

“My mother is a little old woman. She’s not disruptive or uncooperative,” he said Saturday. “I don’t understand how this happened.”

He said she’s had an increasingly difficult time traveling, especially since her husband died a few years ago. She has two grandchildren, and her older son, a doctor, died in 2007.

Meanwhile, Lenore Zimmerman said she was healing, planned to go to the grocery store on Saturday and take it easy. She does not plan to head back to an airport until April when she returns to New York.

“Thank goodness,” she said. “It will give me some time to brace myself for the return flight.”

Information from: Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

Top row (L-R): Paul Roberts, Mary Fosse, Paula Rhyne, Greg Lineberry, Don Schwab. Bottom row (L-R):Lacey Sauvageau, Tommie Rubatino, Liz Vogeli, Ben Zarlingo, Demi Chatters.
Who’s running for Everett council? New candidates — a lot of them

Ten people are vying for positions newly defined by districts. Only two are incumbents.

Steve Oss (left) and Cassie Franklin.
Budget and homelessness at center of Everett mayor’s race

Steve Oss, a longtime transit worker, is challenging incumbent Cassie Franklin.

FILE - This October 2021, photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. The U.S. moved a step closer to expanding vaccinations for millions more children as a panel of government advisers on Tuesday, Oct. 26, endorsed kid-size doses of Pfizer's shots for 5- to 11-year-olds. (Pfizer via AP, File)
Pfizer vaccines for younger kids expected in state next week

The Health Department estimates about 30% of parents will seek shots immediately for children ages 5-11.

Gene Simmons impersonator, Jack Murrin practices on there bass guitar at his storage building on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Everett, Washington. Murrin, 51, a firefighter and impersonator, is putting on a 2-hour KISS concert with 19 songs in front of his north Everett home on Halloween.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
The Demon: Gene Simmons imitator hosts a free Kiss concert

Everett firefighter and paramedic Jack Murrin will return to the stage for a Halloween show at his home.

The parking lot of a Lynnwood apartment complex in the 19800 block of 50th Avenue West where a man was allegedly stabbed Friday night. (Lynnwood Police)
Lynnwood man arrested for allegedly stabbing acquaintance

They were arguing at an apartment complex and began fighting.

Caregiver charged with raping Everett woman with dementia

A DNA sample found “very strong support” that Kelvin Njeru was the suspect, prosecutors allege.

Vincent Cavaleri (City of Mill Creek) 20211025
Mill Creek councilman invites unvaccinated officers to apply

Police said a staffing shortage could become a crisis. So the City Council approved hiring bonuses.

Police block roads in south Everett in search for suspect

Officers were trying to arrest a suspect near Everett Mall Way and Third Avenue Southeast.

Woman, 60, shot after neighbor dispute near Everett

The suspect, 19, confronted the woman with a shotgun, and allegedly shot her.

Most Read