A flight was forced to divert after sudden, strong turbulence injured close to 40 passengers, and caused many to fly out of their seats and “hit the ceiling.”
Air Canada’s flight 33 was scheduled to travel from Vancouver, Canada to Sydney, Australia on Thursday. However, it had to turn back and land at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii mid-flight because of an un-forecasted burst of turbulence.
In a press conference, Glen Mitchell, who is the fire chief of the State of Hawaii, said “There was a total passenger count of 233” reported to his unit. Among these people, there were 37 injuries, of which 30 were transported to local hospitals. Nine of these injuries were deemed “serious,” and the other 21 were “stable.”
In an interview with CBS News, passengers described the shocking incident. “It just seemed that the plane sank and then flew up,” Sharon Thornton told the news outlet.
“A lot of people hit the ceiling, and a lot of screaming,” added another passenger. “The seat in front of me, they — a girl hit the plastic overhead and actually snapped and broke it. I think one of the stewards was badly injured when a trolley fell on top of them.”
Others took to social media to share stories, photos and video of the aftermath of the turbulence. A passenger, Sam Rattanasone posted a series of images on Instagram which showed broken ceilings in the plane, fire department personnel and paramedics attending to injured passengers on the ground and even a selfie of what appears to be him wearing a neck brace after the accident.
While he did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, he joked about the situation and captioned his post “Unexpected holiday in Hawaii.”
Someone else posted a video, which has since been shared to YouTube, showing the state of the plane with oxygen masks hanging down from panels.
Members of an Australian country-rock band called Hurricane Fall were caught in the turbulence and posted on Facebook after the flight describing how even though most of them made it out unscathed, their lead vocalist, Pepper Deroy suffered some injuries.
“Pepper has copped some nerve damage in his forearm/elbow but after being treated on the tarmac and then a follow up in [the] hospital he’s got the Thumbs Up,” their post reads.
Two other passengers, Jess Smith and Tay Maggs who were traveling together, were unsure about how long they’d have to wait in Hawaii.
“We don’t know how long we will be in Hawaii for but we’re okay,” Smith wrote in her Facebook post. “We hit a random turbulence mid flight which boosted us out of our seats, hitting the ceiling of the plane.”
Maggs wrote: “Though one of the scariest experiences I have ever had, glad we are safe but get us home to Australia!”
She added that she injured her nose in the turbulence — joking that it’s now back in place from when she had broken it as a child.
While Air Canada did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, a representative told Hawaii News Now that they’d be making overnight arrangements in Honolulu for passengers on the flight.
An Air Canada flight attendant, who prefers to remain anonymous tells Yahoo Lifestyle that while “explosive” events like this one typically aren’t too common, she has recently been encountering turbulence more than usual.
“In April, I injured my back trying to stop a bar cart from falling over during unexpected turbulence on a flight from Toronto to Vancouver,” she recounts. “I’ve had to order passengers to stop where they are and sit on the ground or hold on to another seat because they chose to ignore the seat belt sign to make a run for the washroom and then suddenly, things took a turn for the worse.”
She adds that in a scenario like this, passengers aren’t just putting themselves in danger — they’re also putting others at risk.
Jess Smith, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport staff and members of Hurricane Fall did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
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