Eleven people were seriously injured Sunday when severe turbulence affected a flight from Phoenix to Honolulu in what Hawaiian Airlines described as an isolated and unusual event.
Jon Snook, the airline’s chief operating officer, said the company had not had “an incident of this nature in recent history.” The flight was full, with 278 passengers and 10 crew members, he stated during a press conference in the afternoon.
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Twenty people were taken to hospitals, 11 of them in serious condition, said Jim Ireland, director of Honolulu Emergency Medical Services.
At least one person reportedly lost consciousness at any given time, but all the patients were awake and talking when they arrived at hospitals, he added.
The patients suffered cuts, some to the head, as well as bumps and bruises. Some people became nauseated and vomited from the extreme movements, she noted. In total, 36 people received treatment.
“We are also very pleased and fortunate that there were no deaths or other critical injuries. And we are confident that they all make a full recovery,” Ireland said.
Among the injured were three flight attendants, Snook said.
One of the passengers, Kaylee Reyes, told Hawaii News Now that her mother had just sat down when the turbulence began, and she did not have a chance to buckle her seat belt.
“She went flying and hit the roof,” Reyes said.
Snook said that the interior of the aircraft had suffered some damage during the turbulence. The seatbelt warning was on at the time, although some of the injured were not wearing it, he said.
Thomas Vaughan of the National Weather Service in Honolulu said there had been a thunderstorm warning for Oahu and other areas that would have included the path of the flight at the time of the incident.