UPDATE: As of noon on Thursday June, 14, the female flight attendant at a local hospital is still listed in serious condition, but she is stable.
The Lake Charles Regional Airport experienced a late night arrival on Tuesday after an emergency on board caused a Boeing 737 to be diverted.
United flight 1632 arrived in Lake Charles just before nine o'clock last night with several injuries on board.
Acadian Ambulance, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office and the Department of Homeland Security all responded to the call.
While diversions to the Lake Charles Regional Airport aren't unusual, turbulence injuries are rare.
The Regional Airport Fire Department received the call from their tower at 8:26 Tuesday night. The flight, en route from Houston's Intercontinental Airport to New York City's La Guardia airport, needed to make an emergency landing.
"People who weren't buckled in are the flight attendants who were already up getting ready to start service so they flew up, several people flew up, and hit the ceiling of the plane and then immediately were slammed down to the floor of the plane," said passenger Jeff Hornbeck.
Turbulence is being blamed for the incident.
"Shortly after it happened several of the flight attendants went into the back and shortly after that they came on the intercom and asked if there were any doctors on board, and said they had a serious problem that they needed some help with," said Hornbeck.
Luckily Hornbeck said an EMT was on board the flight to tend to the injured flight attendants until the plane landed. Once on the ground, emergency medical crews took over.
"Before they got off the airplane Acadian Ambulance did a basic triage going to each passenger while they were on the aircraft checking for injuries things like that," said airport Executive Director Heath Allen. "Once it was determined that the critical passengers were indeed off the airplane, those passengers were de-boarded into the passenger terminal here at Lake Charles."
Flight 1632 was a Boeing 737-700. Allen says the airport handles large planes often.
"Our runway is well equipped to handle aircraft of that size," said Allen. "Just to offer comparison our runway's the same length as Chicago Midway which handles large aircraft and a lot more traffic than we do."
Diversions here at the Lake Charles Regional Airport aren't unusual. In fact yesterday, on Tuesday, the airport saw five diversions alone, including an international flight.
While diversions may be common, turbulence doesn't often cause significant injuries.
"Normally the captain gets some type of forewarning," said Allen. "In this case he didn't unfortunately and the flight attendants were up moving about the cabin, weren't strapped in."
At last check two flight attendants and three passengers were treated and released from the hospital. One flight attendant remains hospitalized in serious condition.
The plane left for La Guardia this morning around 2:30 and arrived safely.