At least 36 people on a Hawaiian Airlines flight were injured, with 20 taken to emergency rooms, after their plane encountered “severe turbulence” on a flight from Phoenix to Honolulu on Sunday, authorities said.
Eleven patients were in serious condition, Honolulu Emergency Medical Services said in a statement. Among those transported to the hospital was a 14-month-old child.
The patients’ injuries included a serious head injury, lacerations, bruising and loss of consciousness, Honolulu EMS said.
Hawaiian Airlines is “supporting all affected passengers & employees” and monitoring the situation, the company said. Three crew members were among those injured, according to the airline.
“Medical care was provided to several guests & crewmembers at the airport for minor injuries while some were swiftly transported to local hospitals for further care,” Hawaiian Airlines tweeted.
The turbulence occurred 15 to 30 minutes before the plane landed in Honolulu, carrying 278 passengers and 10 crew members.
The EMS and the American Medical Response responded to a “mass casualty emergency” at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport just after 11 a.m. Sunday, according to the statement.
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 35, an Airbus 330, reported the turbulence around 10:35 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
An 18-year-old college student on her way home for winter break was on the plane and said it felt like normal turbulence at first. Then the shaking escalated quickly.
“It felt like free-falling,” Jacie Hayata-Ano told CNN, describing being lifted off her seat with her seat belt on.
After the shaking was over, a crew member came over the speaker system asking for any trained medical or military personnel to help with injured passengers, said Hayata-Ano, who was not injured.
“I’m thankful that there were people that stepped up and helped because some of the staff needed it,” she said. “Everyone was pretty much helping each other. Checking on each other and picking up stuff,” Hayata-Ano added.
The airline said it is conducting “a thorough inspection of the aircraft” before returning the plane to service.
The FAA said it is investigating the incident.