'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

  • Any suspect charged in pregnant woman's death will also face charges in death of her child

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto police say any suspect charged in the fatal shooting of a 33-year-old pregnant woman last year will also be charged in the death of her baby, who was delivered prematurely. The infant son of Candice Rochelle Bobb died in hospital last June, roughly a month after the shooting. Source
  • Aid workers leave famine-hit South Sudan area for safety

    World News CTV News
    KAMPALA, Uganda -- The United Nations says aid workers in a famine-stricken region of South Sudan have been forced to relocate because of insecurity, complicating efforts to help more than 100,000 affected people. The U.N. Source
  • Ontario wants public feedback on online ticket sales, 'scalper bots'

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario is looking for public feedback as it crafts legislation to improve the process of buying and selling tickets online for shows and games. The Liberal government said last year it would look at tackling computer "scalper bots" after an outcry from fans who were shut out of buying tickets to the Tragically Hip's farewell tour. Source
  • 8,000 flee as Iraqi forces fight Islamic State in western Mosul: UN

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- The United Nations says about 8,000 people have fled from the western part of Mosul and surrounding villages since Iraqi forces launched the push to take the western half of the city from the Islamic State group. Source
  • Plane nose-dives into California homes, killing 3 people [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A small plane crashed into two homes in Riverside Monday evening shortly after taking off from a nearby airport, leaving fiery wreckage that nearly destroyed one of the homes, officials said. The Cessna 310 aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Riverside Municipal Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Source
  • Vandalism to Jewish cemetery spurs major volunteer effort

    World News CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA -- Scores of volunteers are expected to help in an organized effort to clean up and restore a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia where vandals damaged hundreds of headstones. The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia says the work at Mount Carmel Cemetery will start Tuesday and take place each afternoon. Source
  • Pennsylvania nurse James Close allegedly recorded videos of naked patients: Police

    World News Toronto Sun
    YARDLEY, PA. - Authorities say a Pennsylvania nurse recorded videos of naked female patients. Lower Makefield police say 45-year-old James Close, of Abington, who works at Penn Medicine Dermatology, was arrested on Feb. 13 after a 17-year-old patient noticed a phone on the ground had been recording her while naked. Source
  • Audi driver pleads guilty after video shows him mowing down man in road-rage

    Canada News CTV News
    GRAPHIC CONTENT warning: Some of the content in this video is disturbing. SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- A 69-year-old man has pleaded guilty after being captured on video mowing down another man in a Saint John, N.B. Source
  • After decades in Canada, 59-year-old man faces deportation to Netherlands

    Canada News CTV News
    On the day a 59-year-old man who has lived in Canada almost his whole life, but never obtained citizenship, is due in court over his scheduled deportation to the Netherlands, an immigration lawyer explains how other long-time residents of this country could suddenly find themselves ordered out. Source
  • Former teacher and ex-softball coach Robert Ruben Ornelas sentenced for assaulting girls in Philippines

    World News Toronto Sun
    SANTA ANA, CALIF. - A former Southern California teacher has been sentenced to 190 years in federal prison for travelling to the Philippines to have sex with young girls and videotaping the encounters. Robert Ruben Ornelas was found guilty in November on seven counts including having illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country and producing child pornography. Source