Article Launched: 05/21/2008 12:59:12 PM PDT
Nine federal employees got doused with a potent shot of pepper spray at San Jose's airport today when a can of the irritant that a passenger had packed in a bag was inadvertently discharged.
Rich Dressler, spokesman for the Mineta San Jose International Airport, said two Transportation Security Administration employees were taken to Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara for treatment. The remaining seven TSA agents, he said, were evaluated at the scene by San Jose firefighters and paramedics, and deemed to be OK.
It all started about 10:45 a.m. when a passenger was going through a security checkpoint at Terminal C. As the passenger was putting a bag on the X-ray table, the passenger remembered mistakenly packing a can of pepper spray. The passenger alerted the TSA agents. As one of the agents removed the hazardous spray and put it into a bin, it discharged, spraying the agents' eyes and faces, said TSA spokesman Nico Melendez. Authorities provided conflicting reports about the passenger's gender. A fire captain at the scene said it was a man, but police reported that it was a woman.
None of the flying public was affected.
Service at the airport wasn't severely disrupted. Security screening continued. And the unnamed pepper spray-carrying passenger continued on his trip.
This wasn't a first for this type of pepper spray accident at an airport.
And Melendez said he hoped this experience would remind travelers to leave their self-defense-in-a-can at home.
"I can't remember where or when exactly, but this has happened before," Melendez said. "And it's just one of those reasons why pepper spray is not allowed on airplanes. We just wish people would stop bringing pepper spray to the airport."