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Suspicious skull scares up screening stop at Salt Lake City Int'l Airport

Skull SLC Airport.png
Posted at 11:52 AM, Sep 29, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Halloween came a little early to the Salt Lake City International Airport with a spooky scare that stopped operations for a few hours.

Early on Sept. 18, an explosive detection unit flagged a frightening item inside checked luggage that is normally seen in a horror movie or Halloween decoration.

Officers with the TSA examined the baggage with X-rays and found what appeared to be a skull "with unidentifiable components inside" that "resembled an improvised explosive device," according to officials.

Photos of the skull show multiple wires connected to a battery affixed inside the item, along with a sensor and putty.

Checked baggage screening operations were suspended for nearly two hours while the suspicious skull was investigated as a potential security threat.

An explosive detection K-9 was called in and TSA was able to contact the passenger who originally checked the skull who explained the item was a medical training device for spine and neurosurgeons, used to help instruct how to conduct lobotomies.

TSA determined the skull was not permitted to fly on a commercial aircraft and the item was held back.

“This incident and subsequent response is an example of how TSA must take every potential security threat seriously while making sure that the transportation system is not put at risk,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Utah Matt Davis. “I was pleased at the professionalism of everyone involved who worked closely to fully resolve the matter, to ensure that security was not compromised and to resume operations as quickly possible.”