Florida family in middle of Delta needles-in-food crisis

07/18/2012 5:00 AM

07/18/2012 7:08 AM

Worldly attention was not what the Drogt family of Bradenton anticipated when they returned home Sunday from a two-week family vacation to Amsterdam.

But the sewing needles two members of the Drogt family nearly bit into in turkey and cheese sandwiches served on two separate Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam is a story that is getting plenty of attention.

"What are the odds that two members of the same family on different flights would be served sandwiches with needles?" said family friend Manny Zafiros.

William Drogt, 16, who attends Bradenton’s St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and is a tennis student at IMG Academies, along with his mother, Bradenton’s Karen Drogt and his sister, IMG-Pendleton graduate Carolyn Drogt, 20, all boarded Delta Flight 175 at 9 a.m. Sunday from Amsterdam bound for Atlanta.

Meanwhile, William and Carolyn’s dad and Karen’s husband, Dr. Jack Drogt, an internationally known orthopedic surgeon, boarded Delta Flight 259 an hour later bound for Minneapolis for a work appointment.

All four were served turkey and cheese sandwiches late in their flights as part of the airlines’ pre-arrival snack, the family said.

William and Dr. Drogt got one-and-one-quarter-inch-long sewing needles imbedded in their sandwiches.

Dr. Drogt put his needle in his mouth and told family members later he pulled it out thinking it was a bone.

Dr. Drogt told his story on a morning national TV show and the rest of the family may be asked to tell theirs later this week, the family said.

A Delta spokesman told The Associated Press that needles were found on six sandwiches on four flights, two flights from Atlanta and one to Minneapolis and Seattle. Passengers found four of the needles.

Half of the those passengers were members of the Drogt family from Bradenton.

The FBI and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport have opened criminal investigations, but the U.S. Transportation Security Administration does not view the matter as a threat to national security, according to the AP.

The sandwiches were made by Gate Gourmet, one of the world’s largest airline caterers.

William is just thankful he didn’t swallow the needle in his sandwich.

"If I had swallowed it I would have been in trouble because we were still over water," William said Tuesday.

Since it was dark in the cabin and he was watching a movie when he got his sandwich, his not eating the needle or being stabbed by it borders on the miraculous, he said.

Somehow, even he doesn’t know how, he looked down and saw the black tip of something in his sandwich.

"I thought it was like the lead from a mechanical pencil," William said.

What kind of makes up for the needle is that William enjoyed several visits this week from the FBI, whose agent took the needle that the flight attendant had wrapped for William in a paper towel after he found it in his food.

"I’ve always been interested that kind of thing," William said of FBI work. "That’s a cool job."

FBI Atlanta is conducting a criminal investigation and Dutch police and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority also are investigating the incident, the paper reported.

William recalled Tuesday that the flight attendant had offered the sandwich or a salad.

"I wonder what might have been in the salad," William said.

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