PHOENIX — Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen blasted the Transportation Security Administration over the weekend for the way one of its Denver agents treated her.
“Everyone should be treated equally and I feel like I was not,” Van Dyken-Rouen told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos.
The former Olympian — who was paralyzed in an ATV accident — said she was traveling through Denver International Airport on Sunday when she was flagged for a check. She and her husband are both TSA Precheck-certified, meaning they have passed a background check to make airport security a smoother process.
“I obviously cannot go through the metal detector,” she said. “With the wheelchair and the rods in my back, that thing will [light] up like a Christmas tree.”
She said a female agent pulled her aside for a check, but when Van Dyken-Rouen told her the normal procedure it to swab her hands and feet for explosives and pat down her wheelchair, the agent asked around and went to get a supervisor.
This, she said, is when things took a turn.
“He (the supervisor) literally said it to me and he said it this way, ‘You know, whatever has happened in the rest of the country – and even in Denver – before this, they are wrong.’
“The way that we’re doing this and that it should be done is my way,” Van Dyken-Rouen said.
The former Olympian said she was then bodily checked — including her breasts, buttocks and crotch — in full view of other passengers. She was not offered a private room.
“I’m a pretty tough chick, but at this point, I’m a little upset, so I’m crying,” she said.
With the positive in my journey, there is also negative. Need to make changes for all in ♿️. @denairport @tsa pre check officer was rude, and in correct. Said every airport in country BUT Den is doing it wrong. Had a full body pat down, and was humiliated by him as well. Thank you STSO Keith Rogers!!! I’m going to find out if the rest of the country is wrong, or if HE is wrong. I’ll get back to you. 😘
Van Dyken-Rouen was cleared to fly and received a call from the head of the Denver TSA on Monday.
“He could do nothing but apologize,” she said.
The official said he was unsure why she was pulled from the line, but ensured Van Dyken-Rouen that her negative experience resulted in more training.
In a statement to ABC 7 in Denver, the TSA said its officers “did not follow correct screening protocols.”
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