Turbulence Started Out Feeling Normal. Then Things Got 'Intense'

36 people injured, including 14-month-old, on Hawaiian Airlines flight
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2022 12:42 AM CST
Turbulence Started Out Feeling Normal. Then Things Got 'Intense'
This photo combination of mobile images, courtesy of passenger Jazmin Bitanga, shows the interior of a Hawaiian Airlines plane flying from Phoenix to Honolulu after severe turbulence rocked the flight, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.   (Courtesy of Jazmin Bitanga via AP)

Just 15 to 30 minutes before it landed Sunday morning, a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu started experiencing normal turbulence. Then things got serious. One passenger tells CNN that even with her seatbelt on, she was lifted off her seat. "It felt like free-falling," she says. Another tells Hawaii News Now that her mother had just returned to her seat when the turbulence hit suddenly, and didn't have time to buckle her seatbelt: "She flew up and hit the ceiling." In the end, 36 people including three crew members were injured; 20 of them were taken to emergency rooms after the flight landed, including a 14-month-old child. Eleven of the passengers were in serious condition after what the airline called "severe" turbulence.

Photos of the plane show cracks and other damage inside; one passenger describes how, during one of two "intense" altitude drops, her boyfriend's water bottle flew up and hit the ceiling, damaging it. Hawaiian Airlines says it is "supporting all affected passengers & employees." After the turbulence subsided, crew members asked for any trained medical or military personnel to help out, and the passenger who spoke to CNN says people on the flight stepped up to help each other. Injuries included lacerations, bruising, and serious head injuries; other passengers reported nausea and vomiting. One person lost consciousness, but all passengers were said to be alert and talking when they reached hospitals, the AP reports. A meteorologist says the plane most likely flew through a thunderstorm. An investigation is underway. (More Hawaiian Airlines stories.)

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