Atlantic City airport evacuated over security scare

Posted: April 21, 2013

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. - Atlantic City International Airport was evacuated for three hours Friday after a U.S. Transportation Security Administration employee discovered a suspicious item in a family restroom.

The small package was determined by a New Jersey State Police bomb squad not to be a security threat, said Kevin Rehmann, a security and communications manager for the airport.

Rehmann said the package was found shortly before noon, just after another unattended item was discovered near the Midlantic Jet Aviation terminal, a separate area adjacent to the airport's main terminal used for charter flights and private jets. That package had apparently fallen off a service truck. It also was determined not to be a threat to airport safety, he said.

The investigation delayed about a half-dozen flights, including a Spirit Airlines flight arriving from Orlando just before the evacuation order was issued, Rehmann said. The flight was forced to remain on the runway until officials determined the area was safe. The 280 passengers had to be bused from the runway to a parking area, where families and friends anxiously awaited their arrival.

A flight departing for Tampa, Fla., on the same airline was half-boarded when the evacuation order was made. It was delayed, he said.

"It's pretty scary because you don't know exactly what's happening, and no one can really tell you anything," said Kelly Kwortnik of Toms River, who had come to the airport to pick up her mother from the Orlando flight.

"With everything going on in Boston . . .. you just never know these days," Kwortnik said.

Officials denied reports that two F-16 fighter jets from the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard at the airport had been deployed.

The all-clear was given at 3:05 p.m. after police canines swept the terminal for possible explosives or other devices, and the TSA rebooted computers and other systems to resume normal screening.


Contact Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-652-8382 or jurgo@phillynews.com. Read the Jersey Shore blog "Downashore" at philly.com/downashore.

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