Extreme turbulence on American Airlines flight sends 10 on board to hospital

The turbulence, which was "brief," sent people banging against the ceiling.

August 06, 2017, 11:47 AM

— -- Turbulence on a transcontinental American Airlines flight from Athens to Philadelphia on Saturday became so severe that at least 10 people on board were hospitalized, a spokesperson from the airline confirmed to ABC News.

Passengers on board American Airlines flight 759, which landed safely in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, described people on board "hitting the ceiling" as a result of the plane shaking and dropping in altitude.

"Thirty minutes out. They were giving us our drinks. The flight attendants were in the last couple rows when they said 'fasten your seat belts.' And then they said for the flight attendants to get to their seats, and they didn't even have time. It started shaking, then it took a big drop. Babies screaming, people in front of us hitting the ceiling," Ian Smith of South Philadelphia told ABC affiliate WPVI.

FAA officials told WPVI that the flight crew reported severe turbulence while flying over the North Atlantic. The spokesperson for American Airlines told ABC News that the company could not comment on what caused the incident.

The airline described the turbulence as brief, and said that all 10 passengers have since been released from the hospital.

"American Airlines flight 759 from Athens, Greece to Philadelphia International Airport briefly encountered severe turbulence shortly before landing safely in Philadelphia Saturday afternoon," a statement from American Airlines said. "The seatbelt sign was on at the time. Three passengers and seven crew members were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and later released."

Jessica Huseman, a reporter for nonprofit newsroom ProPublica, was on the flight and tweeted about the incident.

"They'd *just* handed out drinks. This plane (that I'm still on) is soaked. Soaked. They'll be hosing this out for hours," Huseman wrote, adding that the flight "lurched" without warning.

"No warning at all. Plane lurched thru the air. Honestly, terrifying," she wrote.

Huseman went on to praise the flight crew for how they handled the incident.

There were 287 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the flight at the time the turbulence took place, WPVI reported.

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