A flight from Phoenix to Honolulu carrying many people on Christmas vacation encountered severe turbulence shortly before landing, causing passengers and unsecured objects to fly through the cabin, seriously injuring 11, officials and passengers said.
In all, 36 people received medical attention after Sunday’s turbulent Hawaiian Airlines flight for bumps, bruises, cuts and nausea, said Jim Ireland, director of Honolulu Emergency Medical Services. Twenty people were taken to hospitals, 11 of them in serious condition.
“We are also very pleased and feel fortunate that there have been no deaths or other serious injuries. And we are also very hopeful that they will all make a full recovery,” Ireland said.
The flight had almost 300 people on board and was carrying many passengers who were traveling to Hawaii for the holidays, such as Jacie Hayata Ano, who was going home.
“It was just wobbly,” he told KHON-TV. “And then it quickly escalated to the point where we weren’t shaking so much that we were basically just floating in our seats.”
Passenger Jodette Neely told NBC’s “Today” show that she saw several people crash headfirst into the plane’s roof.
“She was holding on to the seat in front of me, on top of it, to grab me, even though she was wearing her seatbelt,” he said.
Hawaiian Airlines chief operating officer Jon Snook said such turbulence is isolated and unusual, stressing that the airline had not experienced anything like it recently. Three flight attendants are among the injured, he added.
Passenger Kaylee Reyes told Hawaii News Now that her mother had barely sat down when the turbulence began and she didn’t have time to buckle up.
“She flew and hit the ceiling,” Reyes said.