A Southwest Airlines flight bound for Chicago was forced to double back to Boston's Logan Airport on Monday night after hitting turbulence so severe passengers vomited and passed out and four people were injured.
Flight 147 had only been in the air about 10 minutes when the plane hit bad turbulence around 9:20 p.m. ET, flight officials said.
Some of the 133 passengers on board said they felt as if the plane had been falling before it "suddenly stopped." Witnesses told NBC Chicago the impact was so severe, some people on board started throwing up and others fainted, prompting the pilot to ask for help from passengers with medical training.
"I helped one of the flight attendants [then] went back to the seat," said Dr. Nathaniel George, a podiatrist from Chicago. "I think somebody yelled out. Another passenger got nauseous. ... Then they said they had to turn the plane around."
Chicago nurse Sherry Sanchez was among those who jumped in to help.
"There was another girl passed out, there was about four to five people throwing up," Sanchez recalled in an interview with NBC Chicago. "The other flight attendant fell into the side of a chair, hurt his arm, but he didn't break it. ... It was pretty scary for everybody on the plane."
The pilot turned the plane around and landed in Boston just after midnight. According to MassPort, four people suffered minor injuries. Two were taken to a local hospital. The other two refused medical treatment.
"Thankfully, there were a lot of people able to help," said passenger Angela Gordon, a teacher in Chicago. "Everyone came together and supported one another, but we're all exhausted."
Southwest brought in a new flight crew and the plane departed once again for Chicago, according the airline. It landed at Midway Airport around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, about four and a half hours behind schedule.