Family: Loved one's remains disturbed in luggage

by: Amy Napier Viteri Updated:

ATLANTA,None - Family members want answers after they say someone tampered with a loved one's cremated remains after they checked them in their luggage.

Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri spent Tuesday talking with the airline and the Transportation Safety Administration to get answers as to how it happened.

Family members said sometime between checking their bag in Atlanta and the bag arriving at their destination, someone tampered with their loved one's ashes.

When Amber Bainter passed away last month, her family took the 35-year-old's cremated remains to Utah, where her husband is buried.

Her sister, Stephanie Warnick, said their mother checked the secured ashes on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City on Oct. 23. She said a Delta employee assured them they would be handled with extra care.

"Nobody will break seals, open boxes, nothing because she was really worried about it being disturbed," Warnick said.

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The ashes were sealed inside a plastic bag, and then sealed shut in this box, packed in the luggage. When the bag arrived in Utah, Warnick said her grieving mother found the box with "pry marks and stuff on the box. The box had been disturbed. There was a 1-inch slash mark cut open in the plastic bag," Warnick said.

She said her sister's ashes had spilled all over the bag.

"She had remains of her daughter on her hands. From it falling, coming out of the box, so it's just very disturbing to me," Warnick said.

The luggage had a notice of inspection from the TSA inside. A representative told Viteri they have reviewed video of the bag inspection. He said it shows that before, during and after the screening, the box containing the remains was undisturbed.

In a statement, Delta said, "We are currently conducting an investigation that will include reaching out to the TSA to understand specifically what happened."

What happened and why is what Warnick wants to know.

"These are the remains of somebody who passed away. These are very sacred things," Warnick said.

The statement from Delta also said it regrets this happened. Once the carrier completes its investigation, it will be talking with Bainter's family directly.

Family members told Viteri they just don't want this to happen to anyone else.