'All hell broke loose': Severe turbulence sends Air Canada passengers to hospital

Passengers are describing a “terrifying” Air Canada flight that hit turbulence so bad on Wednesday that it forced an emergency landing and sent 21 people to a hospital.

See Full Article

Connie Gelber was aboard the Shanghai to Toronto flight when the pilot ordered passengers to buckle up, despite clear skies.

After that, the plane just “dropped,” Gelber said.

“I had my seatbelt on thank goodness, but the little girl beside me didn’t,” she told CTV News Channel. “Next thing I know, she’s hitting the ceiling and then she’s down on the aisle, all the way down the aisle on the floor … She was totally injured.”

Gelber said there were “three episodes” of extreme turbulence and that the interior of the plane, “was falling apart, and everything was flying.”

“We were saying, can the plane withstand all this?”

The Montreal resident said she was worried she might never see her children again. “I thought, ‘This is it, we’re going down.’”

By the time the flight touched down in Calgary at 3:23 p.m., the plane was littered with broken tablets and cellphones, Gelber said.

“No one could find their things after,” she added. “Nobody could find their shoes to get off the plane.”

At least 21 people were sent to a Calgary trauma centre, including eight who were injured and 13 who needed observation. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening and some passengers were released from hospital Thursday.

One man said "all hell broke loose."

“The newspapers, magazines, cellphones, glasses, blankets were just flying all over the place," he said. "And of course the screams. People were terrified."

Suzanne Caudry said she saw the passenger in front of her “fly up into the ceiling and then come down onto the floor.”

There were no doctors on board, so Caudry used her training as a periodontist to help the injured passengers, who were concentrated in the back of the plane.

“There was a mixture of people who had head and neck injuries, and there was bleeding,” she said.

“I basically gave people neck braces just to stabilize them and making them feel looked after to the best of our ability,” she added.

Caudry said she’s astounded that more people weren’t hurt. “To me, it’s a miracle we didn’t have worse happening.”

Both Gelber and Caudry said the lesson is to wear seatbelts at all times, even in clear weather. Caudry said she thinks it should be mandatory.

Airline analyst Keith Mackey advises spending as little time as possible standing in the aisles of the plane and wearing a seatbelt the rest of the time, because turbulence can happen without warning.

Although the type of turbulence associated with thunderstorms can be predicted using radar and then avoided by changing course or altitude, Mackey said “clear air” turbulence can be impossible to see coming.

The Transportation Safety Board, which has sent a team of investigators “to gather information and assess the occurrence,” also reminded air passengers Wednesday to wear their seatbelts.

Flight AC88 was travelling from Shanghai’s Pudong International airport to Toronto Pearson International Airport when it hit turbulence over Alaska. The Boeing 777-300ER was carrying 332 passengers and 19 crew members, according to Air Canada.

“Our focus today has been on those passengers who have been injured in this incident and those other passengers on the aircraft for whom this has been a very unsettling experience,” Klaus Goersch, Air Canada’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement.

Goersch thanked the flight crew, its employees in Calgary and the various agencies that assisted on the ground.

He said Air Canada is “grateful that the first passengers are already being released from hospital.”

With files from CTV’s Canada AM



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Police treating blast at Manchester Arena as terrorist incident

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England - An explosion struck an Ariana Grande concert attended by thousands of young music fans in northern England, killing at least 19 people and injuring dozens in what police said Tuesday was being treated as a terrorist attack. Source
  • 'You could smell the burning': Witness accounts from Manchester

    World News CBC News
    Accounts of what happened Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K., are coming in following a deadly explosion that killed at least 19 people and injured more than 50.LIVE BLOG: The latest reports from ManchesterHere are some examples of stories from people who were at the concert: Source
  • Latest: Campaigning in U.K. election suspended after Manchester blast

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The Latest on an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that authorities say killed several people. (all times local): 4:00 a.m. Campaigning has been suspended in Britain's national election after a deadly explosion at Manchester Arena. Source
  • Celebs react to Manchester explosion at Ariana Grande concert [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    Reaction to the fatal explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England: “My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy tonight. I’m sending all my love.” — pop star Taylor Swift, via Twitter Source
  • No rush for charges in 'Angel of Death' fatal prison attack

    World News CTV News
    TOLEDO, Ohio - Ohio authorities investigating the fatal prison beating of a serial killer dubbed the "Angel of Death" say they're in no hurry to file charges. A spokesman for the State Highway Patrol says that's because the suspect already is behind bars. Source
  • Police: Mom killed 2 kids to 'save them from the evils of the world'

    World News Toronto Sun
    DAYTON, Ohio — Police in Ohio say a woman told them she fatally shot her two children to save them from the world’s evils. The Dayton Daily News reports that Dayton police Detective Rod Roberts wrote in court documents that police interviewed Claudena Helton after the May 18 shooting. Source
  • Human rights watchdog condemns bombing of Thai hospital

    World News CTV News
    BANGKOK - A human rights watchdog condemned the bombing of a Thai hospital that wounded more than 20 people on the third anniversary of a military coup, saying the blast was an inexcusable crime. Investigators found remnants of batteries and wires at the scene of Monday's blast on the ground floor of Phramongkutklao Hospital, police said. Source
  • Police: Man kills neo-Nazi roommates over Islam disrespect

    World News Toronto Sun
    A Florida man told police he killed his two roommates because they were neo-Nazis who disrespected his recent conversion to Islam, and investigators found bomb-making materials and Nazi propaganda after he led them to the bodies. Devon Arthurs, 18, told police he had until recently shared his roommates’ neo-Nazi beliefs but that he converted to Islam, according to court documents and a statement the Tampa Police Department released Monday. Source
  • Corruption trial begins for former South Korean president

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Former President Park Geun-hye was sombre in court Tuesday as she was accused of bribery and leaking government secrets at a criminal trial that could send South Korea's first female leader to prison for life if she is convicted. Source
  • Liberation of Mosul 'imminent,' ISIS days numbered: UN envoy

    World News CTV News
    The liberation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul "is imminent" and the days of the Islamic State extremist group's self-declared caliphate "are numbered," the U.N. envoy for Iraq said Monday. But Jan Kubis told the Security Council that despite progress, fighting remains "a tremendous challenge" because IS fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields in "a last-gasp effort that reveals little more than the inherent inhuman barbarity of the terrorists. Source