7 Hospitalized After Severe Turbulence Over Tennessee

Lufthansa flight was diverted to Dulles
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2023 7:26 AM CST
Passengers Say People Hit Ceiling in Severe Turbulence
A Lufthansa aircraft rolls to the parking position at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.   (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

A Lufthansa flight from Austin to Frankfurt made an unscheduled landing at Washington Dulles Airport on Wednesday night after it encountered turbulence so severe that seven people were hospitalized. The Federal Aviation Administration says the Airbus 330 encountered turbulence at 37,000 feet over Tennessee, around 90 minutes after takeoff. A passenger tells the Washington Post that the plane went into "free fall" as the dinner service was underway. The passenger says people—and food—"went flying into the air, hitting and even damaging the ceiling of the plane." Passengers say the plane dropped twice in the space of around 20 seconds.

Passenger Jazz Kantipudi tells NBC Washington that he saw a flight attendant hit the ceiling. "He was literally standing up serving drinks, so he had no way to brace himself,” Kantipudi say. “At one of the drops, he literally, completely, hit the ceiling and dropped down and was completely horizontal." The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority says Lufthansa Flight 469 landed safely and seven injured people were taken to local hospitals.

Passenger Susan Zimmerman tells CNN that the terrifying incident left the plane looking like there had been a food fight. "During dinner service, there suddenly was a wind shear, the plane increased altitude, then we fell 1,000 feet," she says. Zimmerman, who is five months pregnant, was uninjured. In a statement, Lufthansa said the plane encountered "so-called clear air turbulence, which can occur without visible weather phenomena or advance warning. The airline said "affected passengers were given initial care on board by the flight attendants trained for such cases." (Read more Lufthansa stories.)

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