At least 22 customers and two crew members were taken to a hospital for evaluation after a JetBlue flight experienced rough turbulence Thursday evening, a spokeswoman for the airline said.
JetBlue Flight 429 was headed from Boston to Sacramento, but had to be diverted to Rapid City, South Dakota, at about 6:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. ET), spokeswoman Katherine McMillan said.
Passenger Derek Lindahl said a woman sitting in front of him rose 2 feet into the air in the cabin at one point because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
“I literally grabbed her out of the air to hold her to the seat,” said Lindahl, a software engineer from Sacramento.
Rhonda Renee, another passenger, said the turbulence was like a bad dream.
“People were flying out of their seat belts and hitting their head on the ceiling; it was very scary,” Renee said. A flight attendant was assisted off the plane by medical personnel.
It’s believed that weather played a role in creating the bumpy flying conditions.
“There was a frontal boundary moving across the central plains that caused bad weather conditions in that region at the time of the turbulence,” CNN weather producer Michael Guy said.
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The @rapidcitypd brought around crayons and coloring books around to all the children on our @jetblue flight that was forced to land after severe turbulence injured dozens. Thanks to the force and the @rapidcityfiredepartment – we really appreciate your hard work and kindness.
Lindahl praised the flight crew and emergency responders at the Rapid City airport.
“Even though all flight crew were injured in some way, as far as I know, they all maintained their calm and never cracked,” he said.
JetBlue sent a replacement aircraft to Rapid City to take the remaining passengers to Sacramento, the airline said in a statement.