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Single mom says she was 'traumatized' after airport police question her about child trafficking

"No, he’s my child. All 36 hours of delivering him."
/ Source: TODAY

A single mother flying Southwest Airlines said she's "embarrassed and traumatized" after airport police said a pilot raised questions about her possibly trafficking her 4-year-old son.

“My heart was going crazy and I was shaking,” Bridgetta Tomarchio of Palm Beach County, Florida, tells “I tried to be cordial and do whatever they needed. I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, are they going to take my son?’”

Tomarchio first told her story on Instagram.

“This is a message for all parents that are single parents traveling, where your child might have a different last name than you or your child might not look like you. For example, I am darker complexioned and my son (has) blond hair and light skin," she said. “This is what happened to me on Southwest Airlines.”

On Feb. 17, 2024, Tomarchio flew from Florida to Kentucky — a flight she says she takes at least once a month with her son Lucian — to visit his dad in Ohio. While Tomarchio was renting a car at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, she says two police officers approached her and Lucian, who slept in his stroller.

In body-camera footage viewed by, one officer asked Tomarchio, “We've just gotten a couple calls — is this your child?”

When Tomarchio answered “Yes,” the officer replied, “I don’t know what exactly is going on. I guess a pilot was concerned about potential trafficking. I don’t know if something was said or ...”

Tomarchio responded, “He’s my child. I have (his) birth certificate, I have anything you want to know.” She said she did not have internet service to access that document via Google Drive, so instead she showed her and Lucian’s plane tickets, their medical insurance cards and her driver’s license.

“You’re more than welcome to call (Lucian’s) dad, who we’re here to see,” Tomarchio told the police officer in the footage.

“No, you’re all good,” said the officer. “I’m not sure — it came from the pilot. I don’t know if he heard something or what he had thought ... I don’t know what he might have saw. He just wanted to double check on it.”

An airline spokesperson tells that no Southwest pilot on Tomarchio's flight — or any on-duty Southwest pilots — were involved in the incident.

"After reviewing the situation, it appears the outreach to local authorities did not come from Southwest Airlines," a different Southwest spokesperson tells "We appreciate the customer’s patience as we reviewed the information, and our Customer Engagement Team has been in touch with the customer."

A spokesperson from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport tells

"On February 17, 2024, the CVG Airport Operations Center received a call that an individual had alerted airport personnel to a possible human trafficking incident based on concerns that individual reported hearing from a pilot. CVG Airport Police officers were dispatched to investigate the situation and responded within several minutes. When police officers made contact with the individual in question, Ms. Mary Bridgetta Tomarchio, she quickly provided documentation for her child that was traveling with her. The encounter was brief and professional, and all parties went amicably on their way. CVG takes reports of human trafficking seriously and works to quickly investigate and resolve any suspected instances of trafficking reported at the airport."

Southwest Flight
Bridgetta Tomarchio says she was questioned for child trafficking at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport while traveling with her 4-year-old son. Courtesy of Bridgetta Tomarchio.

“He’s my child," Tomarchio said in her Instagram video. "All 36 hours of delivering him.”

She added, "At this point, I'm scared, I don't even have words, I can't even believe this is happening."

Another mother, Mary MacCarthy, sued Southwest for racial discrimination in 2021, after she says an employee suspected her, a white woman, of potentially human trafficking her Black daughter.

According to NBC News, the lawsuit, filed August 2023 in the District Court of Colorado, states the airline's actions were “based on a racist assumption about a mixed‐race family.” Southwest declined to comment on the lawsuit.