(USA TODAY) -- Kerri Mullins had just taken a picture of the clear blue skies overMontana moments before she says she experienced the scariest 25 secondsof her life.
Mullins, from Arvada, Colo., was aboard UnitedAirlines Flight 1676 from Denver to Billings when it hit turbulence sosevere that people were tossed from there seats. Three flight attendantsand two passengers were injured.
"I thought 'Wow! Yeah, this isit,'" Mullins said. "It's the most helpless feeling ever - to just besitting there and not have any control over anything."
Mullins said the plane turned sharply to the right and started plunging.
"Everything flew out of everybody's hands," she said. "It was quite surreal."
Mullinssaid some passengers who weren't wearing seat belts hit the ceiling.When the plane stabilized, passengers began handing items back to eachother that flew around the cabin - like phones and wallets.
One flight attendant remained hospitalized as of late Monday night, United spokesman Luke Punzenberger said in an email.
TheBoeing 737-700 left Denver at 11:57 a.m. Monday with 114 passengers andfive crewmembers aboard. The turbulence happened upon descent, and theplane landed at Billings Logan International Airport at 1:23 p.m.
PassengerBill Dahlin told KTVQ that one woman hit the ceiling to hard that thepanel above her cracked -- and another woman cried out for her baby,said Dahlin, who was uninjured.
"I have flown a lot and I do knowyou run into things like this," he told KTVQ. "This happened to be a lotrougher than what I'm accustomed to."
Mullins said the landing wasn't smooth either.
"Wedid hit a little bit of turbulence right before we landed, so it wasvery unnerving after we had just been through all of this," Mullinssaid.She said the pilot didn't make an announcement about the incident.
"Ithought it was very interesting that the pilot never came on and saidanything about what had happened," Mullins said. "There was nothing."
"Ourprimary focus is assisting our employees and passengers who wereinjured, and our flight safety team will review what happened," read astatement from the Chicago-based airline.
Fatal accidents havebecome rare, but air-safety experts warn that wind turbulence can stilbounce a plane dozens of feet while landing or taking off -- andhundreds of feet while cruising. About a dozen people suffer seriousinjuries, typically requiring a trip to the hospital, each year becauseof turbulence, the National Transportation Safety Board says. Dozensmore people suffer minor injuries each year.
Airlines must reportincidents with injuries or serious damage to the plane to the NTSB, andthey occasionally report less-serious incidents. The reports describepassengers breaking ankles or fracturing ribs while dashing to thelavatory or simply leaving a seat belt unfastened.
Flight attendants are hurt even more often and often worse when thrown across the cabin like dolls or crushed by beverage carts.
You may also like...
Underwater Secret:Hidden caves beneath Weeki Wachee
Rollercoaster Rescue:16 stranded after ride malfunction
Car Crash tragedy:USF students killed in interstate wrong-way crash
Hungry Sinkhole:Hole opens beneath Corvette museum, swallows 8 cars
Be my McValentine:Romantic reservations at McDonald's
Card Game Murder:Man sentenced for Magic: The Gathering killing
Sasquatch on Tour:"Dead Bigfoot" on display in Texas
Here kitty, kitty:Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot:Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth:Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting:Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners:Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected:Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole:Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders:Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections:Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here