Turbulence Blamed for Paralyzing Passenger
A woman aboard a turbulent Continental Airlines flight reportedly suffered a serious spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the chest down. Flight 511 was en route from Houston to McAllen, Texas on Saturday when the plane encountered the turbulence. The flight had been delayed on the ground for more than three hours because of thunderstorms in the area.
During the one-hour flight, the passenger got up to use the bathroom. When the plane encountered the turbulence, it dropped suddenly and caused the passenger to hit her head on the bathroom ceiling. It is unclear if she was in the bathroom or leaving the bathroom when the plane dropped. She was stretched out on the floor until paramedics could treat her on the ground.
A spokesperson for the airline said that seatbelt lights were on during the turbulence, but they do not know if she got up before or after the lights came on. The spokesperson also said that the turbulence the flight encountered injured a crew member and two passengers, including the woman who was paralyzed.
An orthopedic surgeon at McAllen Medical Center has said she suffered a back injury and a broken neck and is paralyzed from the chest down. It is unclear whether she will ever walk again. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.