"People were floating," said passenger Rhonda Lynam of Pebble Beach, California. "All of a sudden, it was as if you're on an elevator, 50 stories high, and it goes out of control. Then you hit the bottom."
Lynam described how passengers were lifted out of their seats, with several of them being slammed into the ceiling and overhead compartments as the plane dropped violently. "People were being tossed around like rag dolls," she said. "Everybody was crying and screaming. The plane was like a disaster."
Lynam tweeted several photos showing the aftermath, as emergency responders tended to the injured on board. A spokesperson for Rapid City Regional Hospital said 24 people from JetBlue Flight 429 were treated and released, all with minor injuries.
"It was almost like a bang, like we hit a wall and just dropped straight down," passenger Casey Corcoran of Milton, Massachusetts, told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB. "There was stuff in the aisles, you had people crying."
Corcoran, who was travelling with his two children, ages 5 and 7, said he saw passengers with cuts and neck injuries. There was also damage to the inside of the plane, including cracks in the overhead bins, he said.
"The flight diverted to Rapid City, South Dakota, and arrived safely at the gate at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time," JetBlue said in a statement. "JetBlue care team members are being sent to assist injured customers, and a replacement aircraft is en route to Rapid City for customers continuing on to Sacramento."