Allowed to fly or not? TSA's decision on 'skull' with a 9-volt battery, wires, other unidentifiable electronic items

Allowed to fly or not? TSA’s decision on ‘skull’ with a 9-volt battery, wires, other unidentifiable electronic items

(As originally published with additional photos, Mon, November 6th 2023, 9:53 PM EST)

SALT LAKE CITY (TND) — TSA agents working x-ray machines in airports never know what they’ll find, and one in Salt Lake City had a very unusual case.

Justin Buttars noticed the image on his screen staring back at him.

It appeared to be a skull with a nine-volt battery, wires, and two unidentifiable electronic items attached to its jaw.

”My first question was, ‘Is this a Halloween prop?’” his boss explained when she was notified.

”The image appeared to have all the components of an improvised explosive device to include a power supply, initiator, explosives and a switch,” said another higher-up.

Buttars confirmed the object was an obvious threat so he had a specialist make sure there were no real explosives.

”We opened the bag and found the plastic skull,” TSA supervisory officer Harley Higgs said. “Its cranium showed a cut line along the crown with a black, sticky substance leaking from the left side. When viewed from the bottom, a blue substance could be seen held in by clear tape.”

Allowed to fly or not? TSA's decision on 'skull' with a 9-volt battery, wires, other unidentifiable electronic items
The image on the screen should’ve been disassembled and properly labeled as a medical training device, including company contact information. (Transportation Security Administration)

The bag’s owner said the plastic skull was a training aid for neurosurgery and was being taken to a continuing education seminar and trade show in Cancun.

That excuse didn’t cut it.

”We became unsure of the skull and its potential threat; therefore, I barred the item from travel,” Higgs explained.

In order to fly, the TSA said the item should’ve been disassembled and properly labeled as a medical training device, including company contact information.

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