TSA Apologizes to Holt Man for Urostomy Bag Incident

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

Tom Sawyer wasn't surprised when he got a call from TSA Administrator John Pistole Monday afternoon.

"I had a suspicion he would call," said Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor who says he was 'humiliated' when a TSA screener in Detroit spilled Sawyer's urine on him during a patdown. "He first offered an apology and I very graciously accepted his apology."

After Sawyer clarified details of what happened to him, Pistole asked Sawyer what he thinks should be changed.

"I told him I'm not an angry person, I'm a decent, good American citizen. I know why we have to have these patdowns, but there has to be training and the training just isn't there," said Sawyer. "I really can't believe that the Detroit TSA agent was the only untrained agent who didn't know what the word urostomy meant."

Sawyer says that he'd like to see any additional training immediately and not several months from now.

The TSA released a statement on Sawyer's incident saying: "We are reviewing the incident... From leadership to the front line, TSA is sensitive to the needs and challenges of all passengers. We have done extensive outreach to the disability community, and our officers take seriously their responsibility to be respectful and professional throughout the screening process."

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) told WILX that she agrees that TSA training needs to be improved, especially in the area of common sense.

"To see what happened to him is horrifying frankly," said Stabenow. "When you have a gentleman that says to you 'I have a urine pack, please be careful,' you ought to be listening to him."

Sawyer says the national media attention has been exhausting, but he's happy that he's brought awareness to bladder cancer and travelers with urostomy bags.

"Already good things are coming out of it," said Sawyer. "People are calling the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network and finding out about bladder cancer."

But that doesn't mean he's looking to go through everything again.

"It's a pretty bizarre experience and one I hope I don't have to relive," said Sawyer. "I was hoping I could help people, I just didn't realize that this would happen."

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