Officer’s initiative reunites passenger with abandoned urn

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
TSO Mark Santos

Have you ever been so preoccupied that you forgot what you were doing or where you parked? That’s what happened to a passenger at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

Lead TSA Officer Marlus Santos was working at FLL when he noticed a crematory urn with no apparent owner. He reviewed the accompanying paperwork and found the name of the deceased’s son. When the owner did not answer the terminal page, Santos paused to recall the person he first saw with the urn – a man in a white shirt.

“I could see how upset the passenger was when I interacted with him at the divestiture officer position,” said Santos. “So, I knew I had to do whatever it took to locate this passenger.”

Having no success with anyone answering the page, he went to the nearest gate agent and asked the agent to search for the man’s name on the recent flight manifests.

Found him! The agent said the passenger was on a Minneapolis flight out of Terminal 3, Gate F7.

Picture of Urn

By the time Santos arrived at the gate with the urn, the Jetway door to the flight was closed. Using his badge, he was able to access the Jetway and walked down to the plane’s door that was still open. He explained the situation to the flight attendant and asked them to discreetly locate the passenger.

Santos reflected, saying, “If I left behind something that was important to me, I would expect someone to try as hard as I did to return it to me.”

The flight attendant found the man, and Santos returned the urn containing the remains of the passenger’s mother to a grateful son.

“Officer Santos’ thoughtful actions make me proud to be a part of the TSA-FLL team,” said Federal Security Director Jason Martin. “His willingness to go beyond the basic mission and demonstrate caring for a member of the traveling public testifies to the quality of his character.”  

Santos received a Customer Service Award and was featured on FLL’s new FLLash TV.