Widow sues airline for loss of husband's ashes

A baggage handler unloads a US Airways aircraft on March 1, 2013.

A Pennsylvania widow says her husband's ashes disappeared after she was required to put them in checked baggage, and she's suing US Airways.

A widow traveling from Pennsylvania to England to scatter her husband's ashes said they disappeared from her US Airways luggage and the airline has neither returned them nor given her an explanation, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Brian O'Grady died of cancer in 2011 and had expressed the wish that his ashes be scattered in England, where both he and his wife, Angeline O'Grady, were born. His remains were to be scattered in Hull, close to where his mother's ashes had been left some months earlier, according to the lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania state court.

When Angeline O'Grady prepared to board her flight at Philadelphia International Airport on Nov. 1, 2011, security officials informed her that the remains must be placed in her checked baggage "because its contents was not a solid substance," according to the lawsuit.

She had US Airways collect her checked bag, then handed over the ashes to a US Airways representative along with the certificate of death. The lawsuit does not expressly say whether she witnessed the ashes being placed in her bag.

When she opened her bags in England, the ashes were not there.

"US Airways, rather than Mr. and Mrs. O'Grady, has had the last word in determining Mr. O'Grady's final resting place. He is not at peace," the lawsuit said.

"Entrusted at Philadelphia International Airport with the extraordinarily precious ashes/remains of (her) husband," the airline showed "negligence, recklessness, callousness and intentional conduct," when it failed in its duties, the lawsuit said.

In a statement, US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie said the airline would defend itself against the lawsuit.

"While we certainly send our condolences to Mrs. O'Grady, US Airways' investigation into this matter did not uncover any information indicating that US Airways is responsible for this unfortunate incident," Christie said.


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