Extreme turbulence like the kind seen on Hawaiian Air flight is rare. But it’s not unheard of
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Authorities say it’s extremely rare to have severe turbulence like the kind that rocked a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu on Sunday, leaving dozens injured.
But the incident isn’t a first.
In fact, over the past 15 years, there have been at least three cases in Honolulu where people were severely injured after their aircraft encountered extreme turbulence.
On Sunday, first responders were on board moments after Flight 35 from Phoenix touched down in Honolulu. Row by row, the wounded were identified, evaluated and rushed to the hospital.
36 injured after ‘rare’ pocket of severe turbulence hits Honolulu-bound plane shortly before landing
“The patients and the passengers were orderly and calm yesterday. And that was really important because it allowed access to the most seriously injured,” said Dr. Jim Ireland, Honolulu Emergency Services director.
A total of 36 people were hurt, including 11 who were seriously injured.
Passengers said the turbulence sent some flying out of their seats.
“The plane shook and it went into a sudden drop. Kinda like how you would go into a drop on a roller coaster,” said passenger Kaylee Reyes.
At least one person lost consciousness after their head slammed against the ceiling.
The unexpected dive left others on board with deep gashes.
“A couple of the lacerations looked like they were going to need a significant number of sutures,” said Ireland. “The most significantly injured people were people who were at the time not in their seats or not seat belted.”
Records show there was a similar incident in the summer of 2019. An Air Canada flight bound for Australia was forced to make an emergency landing in Honolulu after 37 people were hurt.
An NTSB report details a third incident that happened Christmas Day 2007.
Four people were hurt, including a flight attendant who suffered a fractured spine.
Ireland said, “Staying seat belted, stowing away unused material, no matter what it is what we hear all the time on the airplane. But this just reinforces why it’s so important.”
On Sunday afternoon, patients poured into the emergency room at the Queen’s Medical Center.
A day later, HNN asked Hawaiian Airlines if they had an update on how many people were still hospitalized.
“We are unable to comment due to the NTSB investigation. Our teams are continuing to support everyone affected by yesterday’s event,” the airline replied, in a statement.
That statement went on to say the aircraft involved in Sunday’s incident will undergo a thorough inspection before it’s returned to service.
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