July 21, 2010
Abram I. Bohrer

A United Airlines jetliner headed from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles hit severe turbulence over Kansas yesterday, injuring 30. One woman was so forcefully thrown out of her seat that she left a crack in the side of the cabin, authorities and a witness said.

Flight 967, a Boeing 777, was flying over Kansas at an altitude of about 34,000 feet when it hit the heavy turbulence. It was carrying 255 passengers and 10 crew members. The aircraft diverted to Denver International Airport, where it landed safely around 7:45 p.m. and was met by medical crews, Denver Fire Department spokesman Eric Tade said.

Twenty-six passengers and four crew members were injured, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said. He said one person was critically hurt, but he released no further details. As of today, the FAA is reporting that one passenger remains in critical condition.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, said board spokeswoman Bridget Serchak. She had no further information.

It’s not clear where in Kansas the plane hit turbulence but there was a line of strong thunderstorms extending from the middle of Missouri through the middle of Kansas on Tuesday evening.

Airlines typically have rules against flying so close to such severe thunderstorms. It is unclear as of the time of this writing why flight 967 was in such close proximity to such severe weather. In addition to on-board weather radar, pilots have other tools, such as warnings from air traffic control and other aircraft and pilots, which advise them to divert around such weather.

Bohrer & Lukeman is a lawfirm committed to airline passenger safety. We have years of experience representing passengers in all types of in-flight accidents and injuries including turbulence. We will continue to monitor this developing story and update our website news accordingly.