NFL player A.J. Francis has accused the Transportation Security Administration of spilling his recently deceased mother’s ashes as the grieving athlete traveled after the Fourth of July weekend.
Francis, a defensive tackle with the New York Giants, said on Monday that TSA agents at Los Angeles International Airport failed to properly close the container carrying the ashes of his late mother, Carrie Leanne Francis, which he had placed in his checked on luggage.
When Francis eventually retrieved his suitcase, he found his mother’s remains scattered throughout the luggage.
“Hey you pieces of s— at @TSA next time you a—- feel the need to go thru my mother’s ashes for no reason, make sure you close it back so her remains aren’t spilled on all my clothes,” Francis, 28, wrote in the tweet on June 9. “The least you pieces of garbage can do is your f—- job.”
Francis then posted a photograph showing the ashes on his clothes, along with a notice of inspection left by a TSA officer.
The post quickly picked up attention on social media, and hundreds of fans replied to Francis to express condolences and criticize the TSA. As of Tuesday, the post has received over 3,000 retweets and 7, 600 likes.
In a follow-up post, the athlete explained that he didn’t blame the TSA for going through his suitcase, but his problem was with the agents who didn’t properly close the container, resulting in the spillage.
“The craziest part of this @TSA s— is that I don’t even care that they checked it… they were just being cautious, & I can understand that,” the emotional football player, who has previously played for the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins, wrote. “But to not ensure that it won’t spill back into my bag after you put it back in is the most asinine & irresponsible s— I have ever seen.”
The TSA offered an apology in a message on Twitter, but Francis said in an expletive-filled tweet he did not accept it.
2: Our officers are trained to handle your carry-on and checked property with care. Out of respect for the deceased, under no circumstances should the container be opened. Please accept our apologies and our condolences. https://t.co/dlf0Ci6Fh3 https://t.co/wLxp0Wphg9— AskTSA (@AskTSA) July 9, 2018
In a statement to PEOPLE, the TSA once again expressed their condolences and explained they have reviewed footage of the officer inspecting the ashes.
“TSA understands how painful losing a loved one is, and we express our sincere condolences to Mr. Francis. TSA officers are trained to treat all travelers’ belongings with care and respect,’ the TSA’s statement said.
“Video review of the screening of Mr. Francis’ checked bag at Los Angeles International Airport shows that it alarmed for an unidentified object,” the statement reads. “A TSA officer discovered the unidentified object was an opened, unmarked ceramic container, wrapped in aluminum foil inside a small bag. Upon further inspection of the checked bag, the container was loosely packaged, unmarked and the contents unknown to the TSA officer.”
They add: “The TSA officer completed screening of the checked bag, clearing it to continue to its destination. The container was carefully repacked and placed in the bag.”
While the administration says flyers are allowed to carry human remains in their bags, they suggest they do so in a carry-on bag and not a checked one. They also recommend placing ashes in a plastic or wood container to make it easier to be checked during the screening process.
On Monday, Francis posted an emotional message about his mother along with a picture of himself standing next to a mural depicting angel’s wings.
“Momma told me I could fly, so I did… This past week in Arkansas with my family celebrating my mom’s life and in Cali with great friends made (me) realize how truly blessed I am not only to be alive but to have so many people in my life who truly care about me,” he wrote. “Thank you to everyone who has been reaching out… I love you all!”