ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Airport Police in Anchorage are trying to find a person who left cremated remains at the TSA checkpoint in August of last year.
Airport Police and Fire Sgt. Dan Juarez says the remains were checked in to the lost and found for TSA, with the expectation that whoever left them would come looking for them soon. “Thinking that the person would come right back to claim them, they were logged in the lost and found, and sat there until now,” Juarez said.
He said police have backtracked, and checked video, and have some leads, but have not been able to find the person who left the cremains behind. “I’m sure that that family member is missing those ashes,” Juarez said. “If it was my relative, mother, father’s ashes, I’d want them back as soon as possible, so we’re trying to make it right and get those returned.”
Juarez says the department is reaching out on social media to get the word out.
"Share it as much as possible. Even if you think you're sure that you have an urn and there's ashes in it, and you've traveled through the airport, just check," Juarez said.
TSA recommends that travelers carry cremated remains in carry-on bags rather than in checked baggage. Its website site says cremated remains must pass through the X-Ray machine, but if they cannot be cleared, the agency “may apply other, non-intrusive means of resolving the alarm. If the officer cannot determine that the container does not contain a prohibited item, the remains will not be permitted,” says the web site.
The agency says officers are trained to not open containers with cremated remains, even if the passenger requests it to be done. If the officer cannot determine the contents aren’t dangerous, they may not be allowed through.
Juarez says bringing cremated remains in a wooden or plastic-type urn can make it an easier process.
One thing Juarez says he learned in trying to track down the family member is that many crematoriums include a metal tag with the ashes to identify them in unusual circumstances like these. “They recommend do not remove that from the ashes,” Juarez said.
This is the first time the sergeant knows of that ashes have been left behind at a screening checkpoint at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
“I know when I travel and I have family with me, you’re trying to get through from Point A to Point B and sometimes you lose things, you don’t remember where you lost them. That could be it,” he said. “The main objective is to get those remains back to the loved one.”