Turbulence grounds jet in Lake Charles, injuries on board

Turbulence grounds jet in Lake Charles, injuries on board

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - One flight attendant remained hospitalized while two others were released Wednesday morning, after turbulence forced a United Airlines flight to make an emergency landing in Lake Charles.

It was a rough ride for 88 passengers and crew aboard a United Airlines flight from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental bound for LaGuardia Airport landed at Lake Charles Regional Airport.

Lake Charles Regional Airport Director Heath Allen said at least 3 members of the flight crew were taken to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital Tuesday night.  One remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

First class passenger Jeff Hornback recalled what happened.

"We were about 30 minutes into the flight and the flight attendants were preparing to serve drinks. Right about that time we hit some really severe turbulence and people who weren't buckled in or the flight attendants flew up and hit the ceiling of the plane and immediately were slammed down to the floor of the plane," said Hornback.

An EMT on board the flight did what he could while emergency crews on the ground were already responding to assist.

"Acadian Ambulance and the fire fighters got the call when the aircraft was about 20 miles out, which doesn't account for a whole lot of time in between. So it all happened very quickly," said Allen.

Hornback is a frequent flier and said even the flight crew was taken by surprise.

"I heard both the pilot and a flight attendant say that they had been flying for 20 or 30 years and had never seen anything like what they had saw today," said Hornback.

According to Allen passengers were removed from the aircraft before a relief flight crew arrived from Houston so the flight could continue to LaGuardia in New York.

After being grounded for several hours the plane left around 2:30 Wednesday morning on its way to New York.

One of the flight attendants is in serious condition, still in the hospital and being treated for significant injuries. The other two flight attendants are expected to be okay.

The turbulence happened as strong storms moved through the region.  Flights were delayed in Houston and some flights were diverted due to the weather according to the website flightaware.com

Flightaware's website reports the flight was United 1632 and departed Houston at 8:28 p.m. Tuesday.  The planned altitude was 39,000 feet, but it's not known if the aircraft reached cruising altitude when it encountered trouble.

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