It Just Hasn’t Been A Good Week For Orlando International Airport

Some days big, public places go through their day with barely a hitch (or at least no hitches that the media catch wind of), and other days…not so much. Such was the case of Orlando International Airport this week.

The week appeared to start out OK, but by Tuesday, everything started going to pot. And no wonder, with local and national headlines like this:

  • Woman questioned after trying to bring Lye through Orlando airport (Orlando Sentinel)
  • FL Woman Questioned After Trying to Bring Lye Through Orlando Airport (Aviation Pros)
  • “Hazardous, corrosive” liquid at Orlando airport sends 3 to hospital (Spectrum News 13)
  • “Suspicious liquids found at Orlando Airport sicken 4 TSA offers, send 2 to hospital (Fox News)

So apparently a passenger who was planning to travel to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning was stopped at the TSA checkpoint for Gate 1-59 (that’s the one they’ll soon be expanding) because she had 20 full bottles of liquids, not contained in a 1-quart Ziplock bag, in her carry on bag. She also had some bottles of unknown crystal/powder substance.

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 6.16.01 PMShe claimed the various substances were a form of herbal tea, but as per a TSA representative, some of the liquid containers read “sodium hydroxide lye beads,” “HAZARD” and “do not handle without gloves or protective eyewear.”

Four employees in the screening area said they felt ill after exposure to the unknown substances; two TSA agents were taken to the hospital as a precaution and a third person, an MCO contract employee, was also hospitalized.

Hazmat was called in, and after locking down an area of Lost & Found for several hours, determined the liquid in her bag was none-hazardous, but the but the crystals were a hazardous corrosive material often used to create cleaning supplies.

The passenger was questioned by the FBI and cleared, but she was not allowed to board her flight and was forced to leave the airport. She may face a civil fine in the future.

You’d hope that would be enough excitement for one week, but nope, it wasn’t.

On Thursday, we got to see these headlines in Orlando and across the U.S.:

  • Traveler at OIA pepper sprayed, arrested after ‘erratic behavior,’ police say (Orlando Sentinel)

  • Mouth-frothing doctor arrested at Orlando International Airport (Florida Today – part of the USA Today network)

  • Police arrest doctor who acted erratically at airport (The Washington Post)

So what happened? A man from Lakeland FL (about halfway between Tampa and the Disney are), reportedly angry about his flight on American Airlines, began acting erratically on the ticket line and police were called to assist.

When Jeffrey Epstein, 59, saw officers approaching, he “threw his hands in the air” and yelled that “police had come to arrest him,” as per an arrest affidavit. Epstein is a licensed medical doctor in Lakeland and runs a geriatric practice, according to the Department of Health.

Epstein refused the officers’ orders to leave the airport, and continued to yell and say to arrest him, so he was taken to the ground and, after he refused to be handcuffed, was pepper sprayed.

Police said they found a baggie of marijuana on Epstein’s person when they searched him.

 

As per the Orlando Sentinel, Epstein was then taken into custody but then brought to a hospital after he complained of chest pain. While on the way to the hospital, Epstein said he “created a very big disturbance and I did it on purpose,” according to the affidavit. He was then taken to the Orange County Jail after refusing to speak to the doctor at the hospital, as per police.

He was arrested on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting officer with violence and trespassing after warning.

Click on WESH’s link before for more information about and video of the incident and the afterstory.

Neither Tuesday’s nor Thursday’s incident affected normal day-to-day operations at the airport.

Hopefully MCO will have a better week next week 😉

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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