The Carter family travels with tons of medical equipment to make sure their 5-year-old son Easton is safe. He’s spent most of his life in the hospital, so this trip was really special.
"He’s got a lot of different things going on with him," said Jessica Carter, Easton’s mom.
Carter says he was born at 35 weeks with a genetic disorder known as Cat’s Cry Syndrome.
"He’s blind in one eye, he has very poor vision in the other, he’s deaf in one ear, very low hearing in the other, he does not walk, he can’t stand on his own," said Carter.
Easton also has epilepsy, autism, a developmental delay and had to be on a ventilator for 2 years for respiratory failure.
"But he’s doing much better now, he got the trach removed he’s off the ventilator and for him he’s making great strides and is what you’d say is thriving at this point," said Carter.
He’s doing so much better, that he was healthy enough to take a wish trip to Disney World.
"Oh my gosh it was everything," said Carter.
She says their trip was perfect, until the flight home to Indiana.
"I said I had a letter of medical necessity for my son that we had a lot of medical equipment and things like that," said Carter.
Part of that equipment is a medical stroller. It looks like a regular one but acts as a more comfortable wheelchair for kids. The Orlando Sanford International Airport even tagged it as a wheelchair to make things smoother for the family while going through TSA security. And she has a doctor’s note saying for her son's safety he needs to be in the stroller. But carter says the TSA agent told her this.
"He said we don’t go by the tags, we gage that ourselves and decide who is going to stay in it or stay out," said Carter.
Not only did her husband have to carry her son through a metal detector, but Carter says it took a supervisor nearly 45 minutes to inspect the stroller, so her son was sitting on the floor while TSA went through their bags, and she almost missed her flight.
"I said you can’t do that, and you don’t get to decide who is disabled or not, that’s not your job," said Carter.
Now Carter wants accountability and better training for these agents and hopes sharing her story prevents this from happening to another family.
A representative with TSA says they are investigating the situation, looking at camera footage, and interviewing the agents involved. The airport sent us this statement:
"The Sanford Airport Authority (SAA) is aware of the unfortunate incident that occurred between a family and TSA security screening personnel at the Orlando Sanford International Airport on September 24, 2023. Although the incident falls within TSA's responsibility and ownership, this family’s experience is very concerning to the SAA. We have coordinated with TSA and have been assured that the circumstances will be addressed appropriately. The SAA remains committed to ensuring that all passengers are treated with respect and dignity at our airport."