'It was like a movie': Seven hospitalized after turbulence diverts jet to St John's
Miami-Milan American Airlines flight hit heavy turbulence that sent some inside airborne.
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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Seven people were taken to hospital after an American Airlines passenger jet made an emergency landing in St. John's, NL, Sunday night following severe turbulence.
"I thought we were going down," said passenger Jordan Case of Plano, Texas.
American flight 206 left Miami at 3:03 p.m. local time bound for Milan, but was diverted and landed at St. John's International Airport at 9:45 p.m. NT.
About four hours into the flight, the plane suddenly dropped and rolled toward one side, Case said.
He said people were screaming and crying as flight attendants scrambled to help other injured flight attendants and passengers at the back of the plane.
"It was like a movie," he said.
American Airlines spokesman Kent Powell said the flight "briefly encountered severe turbulence" at a time the seat belt light was on.
"Three flight attendants and four passengers were transported to a local hospital for further evaluation," he said in a statement.
"We are taking care of our passengers and crew, and we are working on next steps to get them safely to their destination."
Newfoundland's Eastern Health agency said none of the injuries was life-threatening, and added that five patients were being treated at the Health Sciences Centre's emergency department in St. John's at about 1 a.m. local time.
The plane had 192 passengers and 11 crew on board.
Capt. Bertrand Lecocq, the pilot, said the rough air was likely from the remnants of the massive storm that just hit the northeastern U.S.
Gustavo Canga of Miami, who was en route to his job in Abu Dhabi, said flight attendants and some passengers who were standing toward the back of the plane slammed upwards as the aircraft dropped.
He said there appeared to be some serious back injuries.
"I was very scared," he said.
Kristoo Prakash of Lake Como, Italy said he is a frequent flyer but had never seen anything like it.
"I said: 'God, help me.'"
"It was horrible."
He and other passengers said it was mostly flight crew and passengers at the back of the aircraft who were the worst hurt.
Prakash also described a sudden, steep dive that caught those standing up off guard.
Karen Case said passengers were told they'd be diverting to St. John's, about a 55-minute flight from the time of the frightening incident, due to "severe" injuries.
Lecocq could not comment on the extent of injuries. He said he had never experienced an incident quite like it.
"It was not pleasant."
Passengers were taken to hotels for the night in St. John's.
"I'm just glad to be on the ground," Case said of the unexpected stopover.