PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida (FloridaToday.news) – Two passengers and two flight attendants were injured by turbulence on a flight that landed Wednesday at St. Pete Clearwater International Airport, officials said.
The Allegiant flight was bound for PIE from Asheville, North Carolina, officials said. According to the airline, there were 179 passengers and six crew members on board.
Paul Harris was on a flight and said he had never experienced anything like it before.
“There was a sudden burst of turbulence and then strong, strong turbulence,” Harris said. “The plane felt like it had fallen pretty hard. Several people, including a lady from my row, hit the ceiling.”
“We got into a lot of turbulence that petrified,” said Lisa Spriggs. “She was literally like the matrix. Watched her go up in the air and just land right down. She broke her ankle. Another stewardess in the back broke her ankle, the bone was sticking out.”
Credit: Lisa Spriggs
According to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website, the flight dropped from 18,000 feet to 13,000 feet in less than two minutes.
Allegiant sent News Channel 8 the following statement:
“Today, Allegiant Flight 227, en route from Asheville, North Carolina to St. Petersburg Clearwater, Florida, experienced severe turbulence prior to landing. The aircraft, carrying 179 passengers and six crew members, landed normally and taxied under its own power to the gate. Airport paramedics met the plane to examine two passengers and two flight attendants for injuries. They were taken to the hospital for further examination.
“We will continue to investigate the incident in coordination with the FAA and NTSB and will provide additional information as it becomes available. No further details can be confirmed at this time.”
Harris said that several of the top drawers opened and could not be closed because they were broken. According to him, several people were taken out of the plane on stretchers.
JP Dice, a corporate pilot, flight instructor and meteorologist, said pilots try to avoid turbulence by communicating with air traffic controllers.
“But sometimes it will be one of those things. Unfortunately, this may come as a surprise,” Dice said.
It encourages passengers to always wear their seat belts, even if the seat belt indicator is off.
“Even if the seat belt sign is off, make sure you are buckled up,” he said.