A teen-age athlete and her family are outraged after airport security
officials forced the girl to remove her prosthetic limb in public.
Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy (photo: Ian Currie, Herald Sun)
Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy, Australia's tallest female basketball player,
says she was humiliated when forced to prove her right leg was a prosthesis
in front of dozens of other horrified airline passengers.
"It is quite clear when I lift my pants that I wear a leg prosthesis,"
O'Kelly-Kennedy told the Melbourne Herald Sun.
"I had also given it a few whacks so there was no doubt that it sounded
like a false leg. It was too much that security staff then chose to frisk
me, from ankle to hip, in front of dozens of other passengers. I had already
taken my shoes off, which made standing difficult, and I was not even offered
The 16-year-old Luther College student from Croydon, Victoria, says
other athletes – including some in wheelchairs who just competed at the
12th National Junior Games for the Disabled – were also given extra scrutiny
at Adelaide Airport
Kathleen, who was born with a shortened leg, says the whole experience
made her feel like a criminal.
"Wherever I go, I know I will always be a bit different, but I don't
let it affect me," she told the paper. "But what happened on Sunday puts
my difference in a whole new and negative public light."
She adds it was the first time she was subjected to such embarrassing
"I was once taken aside for a check at Hobart but that was in the privacy
of a closed room and with sensitive security staff."
Kathleen's father witnessed her humiliation, and demanded an apology
from Chubb Protective Services.
"It was sad after a great week in South Australia that some kids left
in tears or angry at how they had been treated at the airport," Terry Kennedy
told the Herald Sun.
A spokeswoman for Chubb apologized for any inconvenience to passengers,
but said the company was committed to heightened security at all airports
since the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the U.S.
The company's website
indicates "Chubb is staffed with aviation specialists who know the industry
and have hands-on experience at airports."
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