30 Hurt on Turbulent United Flight

Posted Jul 21st 2010 12:05 PMUpdated Aug 2nd 2010 10:17 AM


People flying in the air, hitting their heads and screaming. That's how passengers on a United Airlines Boeing 777 cross-country flight described a horrifying experience that left as many as 30 passengers injured and forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Denver.

UAL Flight 967 was en route from Washington's Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, Tuesday night, when it encountered severe turbulence over Kansas.

The flight diverted to Denver International Airport where some of the injured were removed by ambulance, and others treated by paramedics at the airport in a makeshift triage, according to various media reports. There were reports of one passenger in serious condition.

Passengers who continued on to LA, on a new flight, described in a story on NBC's "Today Show" the plane making a sudden drop that had people banging their heads and falling back in their seats.

"It felt like I had gone down an elevator shaft, hit the bottom and came back up. That's what it felt like," one woman says.

One man recounts seeing a fellow passenger flying out of his seat and landing on someone's head across the aisle.

Passenger Kaoma Bechaz told the Denver Post, "It was just a huge up and down."

She said the woman next to her slammed so hard into the side of the cabin her head left a crack in the window. Bechaz said the girl across the aisle from her flew into the air and hit the ceiling.

"It was a bit of a blur. People were screaming and yelling," she says. But she adds flight attendants were quickly able to calm things down after the chaos.

While Bechaz, who also appeared on Good Morning America, says she had her seatbelt tight it was not clear whether passengers had been advised to buckle up.

The plane had 255 passengers and 10 crew onboard. United says four crew members were among the injured.

A United spokesman tells the Washington Post the plane encountered "severe turbulence" and diverted to Denver "to get medical attention as quickly as possible for those who are injured."

Scott Bookman, Chief Paramedic for Denver Health, tells reporters at the scene (in the video) that 21 patients had been transported to five local hospitals and that most of the injuries were "minor to moderate with head, neck and back injuries."

"There are mostly walking injuries," he says. There were also reports that one passenger sustained a serious injury.

FAA spokesman Mike Fergus tells the Denver Post the pilot reported "moderate to severe turbulence" to air traffic controllers at a Kansas City FAA facility, and that the plane was flying at 34,000 feet when the pilot asked to divert to Denver.

There were thunderstorms in the Midwest, according to United.

The plane itself was not damaged by the turbulence, Reuters reports.

Photo, Getty Images
Filed Under: News

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me and my family flew home from chicago and flew thru some nasty weather. thank god it wasnt as bad as this

July 21 2010 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stupid people, the first thing you're told on any flight is keep seat belt on during the flight. You never know when a flight is going to get bumpy-this is a lesson for all the remember the kept it on rule. I assume the stupid people think it's UA's fault, when they are victims of stupid.

July 21 2010 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, we should keep our seatbelts fastened when flying and it's okay to remind people of that. It's also okay to express sympathy for fellow human beings when they have been injured and badly frightened. I often wonder why many Internet users are so mean-spirited.

July 21 2010 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bob parks

Sounds like fun. The Navy paid me to do this while getting shot at.

July 21 2010 at 7:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Love Hawaii!

Just returned home last nite on a United Flight (5 1/2 hrs) , although we didn't experienced any turbulance but how many times did our Flight Attendant emphasize seat bealts Must be fastnd at All times even if the captain has turned off the seat belt sign!!! Uugghh! so Irritating when People DO NOT LISTEN!!!! Yes, I feel for All Flight Attendants, I know it' thyr job but then you have Idiot' like the one' on this flight!!!

July 21 2010 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
corinne sheridan

I think the only people who should be able to sue in this should be the ones who were injured by someone who didn't have their seat belt on. Your told over and over again on all flights to keep seat belts fastened when in your seat.

July 21 2010 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ben Delgado

Flying back from tahiti over the South pacific on Air france we had a smooth flight without any turbulance. Suddenly the airplane witout any warning hit an air pocket and dropped approx. 150 ft.When it came to a stop with the wings hitting solid air, it made the loudest crashing sounds, like a bunch of china cabinets falling and breaking. The jet engines lost power and the plane decended in an attempt to turn the turbin engines to start them. The noise they made until they again started, sounded like an old car trying to start with a battery going dead.Passengers were jerked on and off their seats with trays and some luggage thrown about. No one was injured.I had an isle seat and I heard grunts and groans coming from someone who was dragging him self on the floor. It turned out to be the flight attendant who was pushing the cart down the isle. The cart had gone up and landed on him breaking his leg. He was the only one injured and was attended to by other flight personnel in the mid section of the plane. Needless to say we were all scared and the screams of the passengers was horrifing. After it was all over a lady flight attendant sitting on a bench looked at me with a frightening lookon her face and made the sign of the Cross. I'll never forget that horrifying experience and to this day I a get a quessy feeling when flying in turbulent weather. KEEP YOU SEAT BELTS ON AT ALL TIMES!

July 21 2010 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have never been in a plane in my life. I am not afraid of the height thing, nor do small places bother me. I have even gone to fear of flying classes held by a pilot, but I just don't want to fly. I love watching planes take off and land but am glad I am not on that plane. But God, if I had been on the plane when that horrible turbulance hit I would be actually died I think. I know that if I did fly and I was on a plane for 15 hours, I still would not undo my seat even to go to the bathroom. Could you imagaine being in that turbulance while sitting on the toilet in the plane. Anybody ever have that happen????

July 21 2010 at 6:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kgdug's comment

Kelly, I have actually been in the lavatory when there was turbulence. I actually think you are somewhat safer since it is a small space and you can't move very far - unlike in the seating area without a seatbelt. Plus, you couldn't be hit by other passengers being thrown around the craft. As mentioned in the article, people flew all around. You wouldn't be able to do that if you were in the lavatory. But of course, it could be possible to be shot up in the air and hit your head. I am not sure if that is possible and cannot remember how high the "ceiling" is in the lavatory.

July 21 2010 at 6:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


July 21 2010 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C. Brown

"Hurled out of their seats?" I agree with others the passangers were stupid and felt the rules did not apply to them. Like Lindsey Lohan.

July 21 2010 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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