Six crew members aboard an American Airlines flight en route from Brazil to Miami Sunday were sent to the hospital after the flight experienced severe turbulence, airline officials said.
American Airlines Flight 980 was carrying 136 passengers and nine crew members from Brazil’s Recife Airport to Miami International Airport when it was hit with bad turbulence, airport spokeswoman Maria Levrant said.
Passengers said the turbulence occurred about two hours into the eight-hour flight, and came out of nowhere.
“Everybody just moved up in their seat and some of them just smashed against the ceiling,” passenger Gillas Correa told ABC affiliate WPLG. ”The turbulence is like I’ve never seen anything, I mean, like not even a roller coaster.”
The crew was said to be caught by surprise and thus took the brunt of the injuries. One flight attendant was reportedly hit by a food cart that flew into the air, which damaged the plane’s ceiling and then landed on her.
Firefighters from the Miami-Dade Fire Department met the flight when it landed in Miami around 6:30 p.m. local time and took five of the injured crew members to area hospitals.
The sixth injured crew was treated on the scene, and no passengers were injured, according to WPLG. No other information was released about the severity of the crew’s injuries.
Passengers described the scene on board the plane as one of chaos once the turbulence hit.
“It was a terrible experience,” passenger Christianne Menezes told WPLG. “Terrible, totally scared.”
They also described the heroics of one passenger who, by chance, was an emergency room physician who helped treat the injured while the plane was still in the air.
“The lucky thing is that we had a medical room doctor, some ER emergency room doctor,” passenger Correa told local media.
“There’s a lot of people screaming, a lot of people crying,” he said of the flight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.