NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lenore Zimmerman says humiliation came at the hands of security screeners at Kennedy Airport on Tuesday.
“They decide this 85-year-old lady needs to be strip searched,” she told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.
Zimmerman, who lives on Long Island but winters in South Florida every year, says she avoids the full-body scanners when she travels because of her defibrillator. Instead, she opts for pat downs, but claims that this time, security went too far.
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“After they patted me down, they took me into a private room and they strip searched me. I said ‘why are you strip searching me? Do I like look a terrorist’?” she said.
“She said ‘pull your pants down.’ Then she pulled my underwear down,” Zimmerman continued. “I said ‘why is this happening’ and she didn’t respond.”
Zimmerman says she was allowed to keep her top on.
A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration denied her claim in a statement. “The TSA does not include strip searches as part of our security protocols and one was not conducted in this case.”
“Private screening was requested by the passenger. It was granted and lasted approximately 11 minutes.”
“I missed my flight and I had to wait two and a half hours for the next one,” she said.
When Zimmerman finally made it to her winter home in Coconut Creek, Florida, she called her son Bruce in Long Beach, Nassau County, who told CBS 2 the family plans to sue the TSA.
“I think the two agents that escorted or initiated the strip search should be terminated and their supervisor should be terminated and the rest should get a severe re-training course,” Bruce Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman will return to New York in early April, but admits that she is nervous after her experience.
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