The last of 21 people suffering bumps, bruises and neck strain from severe turbulence aboard a United Airlines flight were released from the hospital on Wednesday, a medical source said.
A twin-engine Boeing 777 jet en route from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles was diverted to Denver on Tuesday evening after the plane was shaken by severe turbulence over Kansas, officials said.
United Flight 967 landed safely and 21 people were taken to six Denver area hospitals.
The mishap marked the third United Airlines turbulence incident resulting in injuries this year, following incidents in February and May, one on a trans-Atlantic flight, airline spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, Ian Gregor, said on Wednesday the agency had warned the Flight 967 crew just before the incident of thunderstorms in the area.
McCarthy said the seatbelt warning light in the plane’s cabin was illuminated for several minutes before the severe turbulence started, and that the pilot had advised passengers to prepare for bumpy air.
Dee Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Denver Health Medical Center, said all 21 people taken to area hospitals had been treated and released. The patients were treated generally for bumps, bruises, neck strain and similar injuries, she said.
Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board had opened an investigation of Tuesday’s incident, as the agencies routinely do when there are injuries.
“Turbulence injuries are rare but not unheard of,” he said in an email message to Reuters.
He said only four people have been seriously hurt by turbulence aboard U.S. airline flights over the past 30 years, adding, “These days, most turbulence injuries are to flight attendants who are moving about the cabin.”
In this case, four of at least 21 people injured were flight attendants.
The plane was not damaged by the turbulence, officials said.