SAA passenger breaks leg as flight hits turbulence

South African Airways (SAA) apologised to a passenger after she broke a leg when her flight from Washington hit turbulence, the Times reported on Monday.

Ronel Stevens was on flight SA 208 from Washington on November 24, when the aircraft struck turbulence.

She was asleep, stretched out over two seats when the aircraft hit an air pocket.

”My foot got caught in the armrest and broke in two places, above my right ankle,” she reportedly said.

Stevens, who lives in the United States, was returning to South Africa to visit her family.

”My ankle was also severely dislocated. This was three hours before the plane could land at the OR Tambo International Airport. I didn’t immediately feel the pain mostly because I was in shock,” Stevens told the newspaper.

She said passengers panicked as the plane started to descend and they were thrown about.

Some passengers hit their heads, while others had cuts and bruises.

A crew member also suffered a broken hand.

Stevens thought the cabin crew could have been of more assistance, according to the paper.

”They could have tried to be more helpful,” said Stevens, adding that the crew did little to make her more comfortable during the three hours before the aircraft landed.

A wheelchair was on hand for her when the plane landed in Johannesburg and she underwent surgery that night.

The airline is now investigating the incident and has apologised to Stevens.

SAA spokesperson Robyn Chalmers is quoted by the newspaper as saying: ”We are aware that the flight from Washington to Johannesburg experienced turbulence. Some passengers were injured and we are investigating the incident to obtain the necessary reports. SAA would like to apologise to Ms Stevens.”

Nationwide still grounded

Meanwhile, grounded airline Nationwide would not be flying on Monday, spokesperson Charmaine Thome on Monday.

”We don’t know as yet when Nationwide will be flying,” said Thome.

Nationwide was grounded on Friday after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended its approval of the airline’s aircraft maintenance organisation and suspended the certificates of airworthiness of Nationwide’s fleet of aircraft.

Nationwide has lodged an appeal against the decision with the acting commissioner of the CAA, Gawie Bestbier. – Sapa

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