An Allegiant Air Airbus A320, carrying 179 passengers and six crew members from Asheville, N.C., to Clearwater, Fla., hit severe turbulence Wednesday, injuring two crew members and two passengers. Photo courtesy of Allegiant Air
July 13 (UPI) -- Severe turbulence on a flight from North Carolina to Florida on Wednesday injured two passengers and two crew members aboard an Allegiant Air plane as it landed in Clearwater.
Allegiant Air Flight 227, carrying 179 passengers and six crew members from Asheville, was approaching St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Clearwater at 3:45 pm. EDT when it hit turbulence. The Airbus A320 plummeted about 5,000 feet in one minute, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
"More than halfway through descending, and all of a sudden, we hit a small turbulence, and the stewardess beside us fell to the ground," said Lisa Spriggs, a passenger on the flight who described the experience as "petrifying."
"It was like 'The Matrix.' We watched her go up in the air and land straight down," Spriggs added, saying the attendant and another crew member broke their ankles.
Besides injuries to two crew members, two passengers were also hurt in the turbulence.
"Some lady was in the bathroom during the time of the turbulence, and she came out and sat down behind me and she had a huge laceration on her right eyebrow, gushing out blood," another passenger on the plane told reporters.
Despite the turbulence, the plane landed without incident and taxied to the gate where medical crews boarded the plane.
"Airport paramedics met the plane to assess two passengers and two flight attendants for injuries. They were transported to the hospital for further evaluation," Allegiant said in a statement.
Allegiant said it will investigate the incident along with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Allegiant's turbulence injuries are the latest in a string of turbulent-related incidents, which researchers say is related to climate change. In March, seven people were hospitalized after a bumpy Lufthansa flight from Texas to Germany forced an emergency landing in Washington, D.C. In December, dozens were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu.
"I'm just thankful to be on the ground. It was terrifying," Spriggs said Wednesday. "You hear of it happening, but you don't expect it to be that bad."