Woman Injured in Turbulence on Dulles-Bound Flight

By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Florida woman was treated at a hospital Tuesday night for injuries she received when a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to the Washington area was rocked by heavy turbulence, authorities said.

The Boeing 757, with 177 passengers aboard, was about 150 miles from Dulles International Airport when it encountered turbulence. Most of the 4 1/2 -hour trip on United Flight 236 had gone smoothly before the pilots suddenly turned on the fasten-seat-belt lights and ordered flight attendants to sit down, according to passengers.

Jeanne Holton Carufel, 56, who was returning home to Tampa after a family reunion, was in the bathroom. She heard the announcement and hurried back to her seat. "I couldn't get back to my seat fast enough," she said. "The plane took a big dive, and I hit the roof of the plane and fell back to the ground."

Paramedics met the plane when it landed at 9:30 p.m. and took Holton Carufel to Reston Hospital Center. She was treated for head and back injuries but was not admitted. Holton Carufel was staying at a Washington hotel Wednesday and said she expected to leave for Tampa on Thursday.

United Airlines confirmed the turbulence encounter but did not offer other details about the flight. Other people on the plane said that service carts in the rear galley were knocked over and that cans of soda went everywhere, drenching passengers

In the past year, there have been eight turbulence-related incidents that caused serious injuries on U.S. airliners and 42 that caused minor injuries, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The most severe incident occurred Aug. 3, when a Continental Airlines flight from Rio de Janeiro to Houston encountered turbulence so severe that 33 passengers were hurt.

Henry Margusity, a meteorologist at Accuweather.com, said the jet stream has been flowing over the Dakotas, the Ohio Valley and the mid-Atlantic region, leading to more turbulence for air travelers.

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