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Baby Sent Through Airport X-ray Machine

December 21, 2006

A grandmother going through security at the Los Angles International Airport put her month-old grandson into a plastic bin intended for carry-on items and slid it into an X-ray machine.

A screener watching the machine's monitor immediately noticed the outline of a baby and pulled the bin backward on the conveyor belt. Officials said that the accident caught airport workers by surprise, even though the security line was not busy at the time.

The unidentified 56-year old grandmother speaks Spanish and apparently did not understand English, officials said.

Security officials called paramedics and the infant was taken to Centinela Hospital, where doctors determined that he had not received a dangerous dose of radiation.

There are signs posted in English and Spanish at ticket counters and near security checkpoints warning passengers that they must put metal objects, such as cellphones, pagers and car keys, into bins that go through X-ray machines.

"This was an innocent mistake by an obviously inexperienced traveler," said Paul Haney, deputy executive director of airports and security for the city's airport agency.

"This is only the second time in nearly 20 years that anyone can recall a traveler mistakenly putting an infant thorough an airport X-ray machine. Since then LAX has served more than one billion travelers without an incident of this type," Haney said.

The grandmother and the child were subsequently allowed to board their flight to Mexico City.