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Unscreened baby leads to terminal evacuation, delays at Newark airport

Who knew a baby could cause such a fuss at the airport?

A baby who hadn’t been properly screened prompted authorities to shut down a section of a terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport for more than an hour Friday, Transportation Security Administration officials said. The “security breech” led to an evacuation of part of the terminal, flight delays and inconveniences for hundreds of passengers.


The incident happened around 1:15 p.m. at a checkpoint leading to some gates at Terminal C.

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said a mother and baby went through a metal detector when the machine sounded an alarm, according to The Associated Press. The mother handed the child to the father, who had already been screened. The mother was cleared, but the baby hadn't been properly screened. The parents and baby left the checkpoint and headed to their gate, Farbstein told the AP.

A short time later, TSA workers realized the baby had not been checked. They began searching for the family in the terminal and notified Port Authority police as per protocol, but they emphasized that it was a low-risk situation, Farbstein said.

A TSA official said the agency recommended against evacuating the terminal because of the low risk, but Port Authority police did so anyway. "Port Authority police unilaterally made the decision to evacuate the terminal, sweep the terminal for explosives and re-screen all of the passengers, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers and delaying numerous flights," the official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue by name because of its delicacy, told nj.com.

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Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman, said that it took the TSA more than 30 minutes to notify police of the lapse. He said officers "took immediate action to make sure the breach did not endanger passengers or our facility," AP reported.

"We're not going to second-guess a real-time decision made by our police department to err on the side of caution and protect passenger safety," he said.

The search for the family was called off and the area was reopened at 2:50 p.m.

Passengers who went through the security checkpoint had to be screened again.

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