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'Like A Bad Dream': Turbulence On JetBlue Flight Injures 2 Dozen People

A JetBlue Airways Corp. employee tags a traveler's bag at the ticket counter inside Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
A JetBlue Airways Corp. employee tags a traveler's bag at the ticket counter inside Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif.

A cross-country JetBlue flight bound for Sacramento, Calif., was forced to divert to South Dakota after hitting severe turbulence, and passengers described the plane suddenly plunging as people went flying.

"About two dozen passengers and crew were injured, and the plane was diverted to Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota," South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Gary Ellenbolt reported on NPR's Newscast. "Katherine McMillan with JetBlue says the airline has sent care-team members to help the injured people."

All 22 passengers and two crew members from Flight 429 who were sent to the hospital had minor injuries and have since been discharged, South Dakota's KELO reported.

The flight took off from Boston Logan International Airport at 5:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, according to JetBlue's flight status information. A replacement flight eventually landed in Sacramento at 4:19 a.m. local time.

One passenger recounted the tumultuous experience to KELO:

"The captain had said that we were going to be hitting [turbulence]. You could tell there were, like, storm clouds outside. It was just normal — if you fly a lot ... it just kind of shakes and then it's OK. And then all of a sudden there was quite a big shake. Whoa. And then right after that there was a drop. The drop lasted maybe a second or two. But it was enough that people were caught off guard."

Alan Lee, a doctor who treated several other passengers, described the moment when the plane suddenly plummeted to the Boston Globe:

"I was working on my laptop when the plane suddenly dropped. ... I don't know how far it dropped, but all I recall is my laptop almost hit the ceiling, several other passengers hit their heads, and a bunch of the overhead bins popped open."

Passenger Derek Lindahl posted a photo on Twitter of one of the plane's toilets apparently torn from its foundations during the turbulence.

Another passenger, Rhonda Renee, described the turbulence as "like a bad dream," CNN reported.

"People were flying out of their seat belts and hitting their head on the ceiling; it was very scary," Renee said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.