A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a serious spine injury after a tumultuous landing last month in California.
The crew member sustained a compression fracture to her third thoracic vertebra during touchdown at the John Wayne-Orange County Airport in Santa Ana on July 1, according to federal safety investigators.
The impact of landing was so extreme that the flight attendant thought the plane had crashed, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report said.
The airline worker was seated in a jump seat on the Southwest Boeing 737 with her seatbelt on and in “brace position” when the incident reportedly occurred. The report stated she felt such intense pain in her back and neck that she couldn’t move.
None of the other 141 people in the cabin were injured in the incident, but the employee was taken to a local hospital where she was diagnosed with a fracture, according to the NTSB.
The pilots were informed about the flight attendant’s injury. The 55-year-old captain and 49-year-old co-pilot told investigators that they were aiming for the normal touchdown zone on the somewhat short runway.
The runway that the plane landed on is 5,700 feet long (1,700 meters). By comparison, runways at the nearby Los Angeles International Airport span between 8,900 and nearly 13,000 feet (2,700 to 3,900 meters), per flylax.com.
In a statement to HuffPost on Tuesday, the Dallas-based airline said: “The safety of Southwest’s customers and employees is always our top priority. We are concerned when any employee is injured. We reported the matter to the NTSB in accordance with regulatory requirements and conducted an internal review of the event.”
The safety board completed its investigation without disclosing what caused the landing, NBC News reported. The official documents from the accident have not been made publicly available by the NTSB, which did not visit the accident site.
The investigation was originally reported by The Dallas Morning News.