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Air Turbulence Causes Flight To Be Diverted From Dominican Republic To Florida


FORT LAUDERDALE — Three passengers and four flight attendants had been taken to the hospital with head injuries after an Allegiant Airlines flight from the Dominican Republic experienced severe turbulence, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

According to the FAA, Allegiant 7001, an Airbus A319 aircraft, diverted to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida after several injuries were reported on board due to the severe turbulence.

The flight originated in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and was headed to Pittsburgh International Airport.

“We were experiencing normal turbulence and suddenly the plane just did a nosedive,” passenger Malachi Witt said in Miami. “It felt like I was on a roller coaster just going straight down.”

According to Allegiant, there were 137 passengers and six crew members on board the flight.

“I felt like I was gonna die,” passenger Scott Gustafson said. “It was really scary.”

The five people taken to the hospital sustained head injuries. It is not immediately clear their condition.

“The airline is currently working to accommodate all passengers and develop a plan for getting all passengers safely to their destination. Passengers are currently being cleared through customs,” Allegiant Air said in a statement.

The flight was bound for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Allegiant Air’s Flight 7001, a charter operated on behalf of Apple Vacations, encountered “unreported moderate clear air turbulence” Thursday afternoon and was diverted to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport, according to the company and first responders.

When the Airbus A319 landed, emergency personnel assisted four flight attendants and three passengers who had suffered multiple injuries, from bruises and lacerations to head injuries — none life-threatening.

According to airline spokesperson Jessica Wheeler, a nurse aboard the flight assisted crew members following the turbulence, and all passengers were “ambulatory” by the time they were transported to Broward Health Medical Center.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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