Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Canada-Mexico flight makes emergency Montana stop
First Published Mar 16 2014 07:14 pm • Last Updated Mar 16 2014 07:14 pm

A flight heading from Canada to Mexico with 181 passengers and six crew members aboard made an emergency medical landing Sunday in western Montana after encountering extreme turbulence that slightly injured two flight attendants.

Sunwing Airlines spokeswoman Janine Chapman says the Boeing 737 landed around 7:30 a.m. Sunday at Helena Regional Airport, a small hub unaccustomed to dealing with international travelers. Flight 559’s passengers waited in the aircraft for more than five hours before being told to stay in a cordoned-off area in the terminal as the company dispatched another plane to continue the journey. The passengers got on the second plane and took off for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, around 6:25 p.m. MDT, airport officials said.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Chapman said a medical team cleared a 27-year-old male flight attendant who received a cut on his head during the turbulence, but didn’t need stitches. He was in an aisle serving passengers when the turbulence hit.

As a precaution, responders also checked on a 27-year-old female flight attendant, who was also serving passengers and fell to the floor, Chapman said. The medical team prescribed over-the-counter pain medication.

Chapman said the captain had the seat belt sign on, and no passengers were injured.

Cathy Burden of Edmonton, Alberta, was among the mostly families and couples traveling from Edmonton to the Mexican resort town for vacation. She said the turbulence was "pretty scary."

"The flight attendant was just bringing a tray of champagne, and she went up in the air and the champagne went everywhere," she told The Associated Press. "Nobody actually got a glass, but we all got champagne on us."

She said she saw the flight attendant fall to the ground, but didn’t see anyone on board with serious injuries. She said everyone was "a bit rattled."

After landing in Helena, the state’s capital, passengers waited for hours on the tarmac because a customs agent couldn’t immediately get to the airport.

Helena Regional Airport Director Ron Mercer said the airport has one agent who wasn’t available Sunday, so another one made the 90-minute drive from Great Falls.


story continues below
story continues below

He said the airport doesn’t typically deal with international commercial flights, so the customs agent had to make sure international rules were followed before the passengers could get off the plane.

They exited into a secure area of the terminal, where the passengers had access to food and restrooms but couldn’t leave the area. Chapman said allowing them to wander the terminal would have caused problems when it came to resuming their journey because they’re international travelers.

Nonetheless, she said, the passengers had been "reported to be in very good spirits."

Another aircraft was sent from the company’s headquarters in Toronto to pick up the passengers so the initial plane could be examined for damage, Chapman said, a move she called customary after severe turbulence is encountered.

The aircraft hit the rough patch northwest of Helena, somewhere over the Continental Divide, Mercer said.

The second jet and a new crew arrived in Helena on Sunday evening, and the passengers took off for Mexico.

"This winter that will not end," Chapman said. "They’re attempting to escape it. Hopefully, we’ll get them there soon."

———

AP Radio reporter Ed Donahue in Washington contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.