85-Year-Old, 110-Lb Bubby Zimmerman of Long Beach Strip-Searched By TSA At JFK


jfk-screener-airportLong Beach, NY – An 85-year-old Long Island grandmother says she plans to sue the TSA after a humiliating strip search on Tuesday by agents at JFK Airport.

Lenore Zimmerman, who lives in Long Beach, says she was on her way to a 1 p.m. flight to Fort Lauderdale when security whisked her to a private room and took off her clothes.

“I walk with a walker – I really look like a terrorist,” she said sarcastically. “I’m tiny. I weigh 110 pounds, 107 without clothes, and I was strip-searched.”

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said a review of closed circuit TV footage from the airport shows “proper procedures were followed.”

But Zimmerman, whose hunched back puts her at 4-foot-11, said her ordeal began after her son, Bruce, drove her to the JetBlue terminal for the Florida flight. She lives in warm Coconut Creek during the winter.

She checked her bags, waited for a wheelchair and parted ways with her doting son – her only immediate relative.

When Zimmerman reached a security checkpoint, she asked if she could forgo the advanced image technology screening equipment, fearing it might interfere with her defibrillator.

She said she normally gets patted down. But this time, she says that two female agents escorted her to a private room and began to remove her clothes.

“I was outraged,” said Zimmerman, a retired receptionist.

As she tried to lift a lightweight walker off her lap, she says, the metal bars banged against her leg and blood trickled from a gash.

“My sock was soaked with blood,” she said. “I was bleeding like a pig.”

She says the TSA agents showed no sympathy, instead pulling off her clothes asking her to raise her arms.

“Why are you doing this?” she said she asked the agents, who did not respond.

The TSA claims the footage does not show any sign of the injury.

“Our screening procedures are conducted in a manner designed to treat all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy,” Farbstein said.

Zimmerman says a medic arrived to treat her injury. The process took so long that she missed her 1 p.m. flight and had to catch a later one.

Her son said he was shocked when his mom called around 9 p.m. that night and described what happened.

“She was put through a —- of a day,” he said.

Zimmerman, who takes blood thinners, later had a tetanus shot for fear of infection from the walker wound.

Bruce Zimmerman, 53, said he can’t understand why the agents targeted his mom.

“She looks like a sweet, little old lady,” he said. “She’s not a disruptive person or uncooperative.”

{NY Daily News/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. While I sympathize with Mrs. Zimmerman, I really hope that she won’t sue (and if she does, that she will lose). How can “looking like a terrorist” be clearly defined? If anyone who is searched can sue, that will paralyze the security setup at all the airports in the country.

  2. The incident that this lady went through is unfortunate, and perhaps may have been unnecessary. But now that it happened, for the good of all the elderly and infirm, and for everyone’s security in general,it would be best if she and her son do not make a racket.

    If the terrorists sense that this is a weak point, and that the TSA is too fickle to thoroughly check the elderly and infirm, then they will take advantage of this weak point.

    The TSA cannot afford to backtrack, because they don’t want to create a weak point in the system. Any judge worth his or her salt will have to back them up for the general good.

    If anything,all this negative publicity will force the TSA to conduct even more of these searches on the elderly, to shore up the weak point that this publicity may be creating.

  3. If Mrs. Zimmerman has a implanted defibrillator,

    she should carry with her, a statement from her doctor, indicating that she has an implanted defibrillator and that electronic screening equipment may interfere with the defibrillator.

    This may save her aggravation from the TSA, in the future.

  4. Why was a patdown now safe enough for the TSA? On a side note an 85 yer old woman was just arrested for operating in illegal smuggling ring. So much for innocent old granny! However, a stripsearch should be the last resort after a patdown detects something that they need to investigate not on its own without merit.

  5. actually the TSA is generally useless and should be disbanded.

    but who am i to argue with the proponents of the illusion of security?

  6. the entire security system with its “political correctness” is IDIOTIC !!

    Since 99% of terrorists are male, middle eastern, between 20-30 years there is absolutely no reason to search jewish senior citizens.
    The officers who did the search should fired for incompetence and the policies should take into account simple demographics.

  7. I agree with Commenter No. 7.

    Recently, at another major airport, I recognized one of the “security” personnel: a non-citizen, former student of mine, who has a green card.

  8. How about instead of “non-discrimination” to the insane degree of this episode, TSA should profile!
    Here’s a tough question- who committs the lion’s share of all international, & domestic terror acts? That’s right! MUSLIMS! Sorry if I can’t tell the difference by looking if you’re an extreme fundametalist, or regular normal muslim, but that’s the price you pay for security.

  9. The story is tragic and it is terrible to treat the elderly this way. But why are you making it a nebach “Bubby” Zimmerman story. This is a woman that stated that after she arrived in Florida, she went shopping on “Saturday” to buy all her needs. She is not a “bubby”. She is an elderly grandmother.

  10. security has to come before feelings…
    If she was injured then that’s a separate issue that needs to be looked into,
    But if keeping our planes safe means that I will occasionally be pulled over, searched, or miss my flight, well so be it!!!