'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

  • Israel faces potential deadlock in a closely contested vote

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel is headed toward an unprecedented repeat election on Tuesday with no guarantee that the do-over vote will produce a more decisive result than the inconclusive one last April. The Israeli electorate is deeply divided along religious, ethnic and ideological lines and the fragmented parliamentary system makes coalition building a tricky business. Source
  • Indonesian police arrest 185 suspected of starting forest fires

    World News CBC News
    Indonesian authorities arrested 185 people suspected of starting the forest fires that are spreading a thick, noxious haze around Southeast Asia, police said Monday. Indonesia and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are regularly hit by smoky haze from slash-and-burn clearances of forests for timber and palm oil plantations, but conditions this year have been the worst since 2015 due to an El Niño weather pattern causing an extended dry spell. Source
  • U.S. strike against GM threatens Canadian plants

    Canada News CBC News
    As 49,000 United Auto Workers in the U.S. strike against General Motors, there's a risk the walkout could shut down GM Canada's plants and auto-parts makers in Ontario. GM Canada says it is monitoring the situation closely for any impact to Canadian operations. Source
  • The Weather Network predicts average fall, cold winter ahead

    Canada News CTV News
    Canadians can expect average temperatures this fall that will give way to a cold winter in central and eastern parts of the country, according to The Weather Network. The network is predicting Western Canada, including B.C. Source
  • Toronto homeowner with nut allergy fights for removal of walnut tree in backyard

    Canada News CTV News
    A homeowner with a nut allergy will find out on Monday if an application to remove a walnut tree from the property’s backyard has been approved. According to City of Toronto documents, the North York resident has been fighting to remove the tree since 2017 after an initial bid was rejected. Source
  • U.S. bomb-sniffing dogs sent to Jordan now dying from poor treatment

    World News CTV News
    Bomb-sniffing dogs sent from the United States to its Middle Eastern ally Jordan are falling ill and dying due to poor treatment and negligence, a federal investigation has found. A year-long evaluation by inspectors at the U.S. Source
  • Mark Ruffalo smashes Boris Johnson's Hulk comparison

    World News CTV News
    Mark Ruffalo, the actor who plays the anger-prone Hulk in the "Avengers" movie franchise, has struck out at U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson for suggesting Britain could break free of the EU's "manacles," like the Marvel superhero. Source
  • Black college, Papa John's blame each other over lost funds

    World News CTV News
    LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A US$1 million donation by the disgraced founder of Papa John's pizza to a historically black college has prompted the school to give up $20,000 in scholarships from the company. The Courier Journal reports that only hours after John Schnatter announced his donation to Simmons College, the school's development director declined the company's pledge to help 10 students with $2,000 each toward tuition. Source
  • Israeli PM vows to annex 'all the settlements' in West Bank

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to annex "all the settlements" in the West Bank, including an enclave deep in the heart of the largest Palestinian city, in a last-ditch move that appeared aimed at shoring up nationalist support the day before a do-over election. Source
  • Liberals to re-record French version of campaign theme song after hitting sour note

    Canada News CBC News
    Are the Liberals removing one hand for tomorrow? That's what some say the new French-language version of the federal party's theme song implies. The English version of One Hand Up, recorded by The Strumbellas, goes, "We can hold one hand up for tomorrow. Source