Woman paralyzed after plane hits turbulence

April 20, 2009 3:42:42 PM PDT
A South Texas woman remains paralyzed after her Continental Airlines flight from Houston to McAllen experienced severe turbulence. Three people were taken to a hospital early Saturday when Continental Flight 511 landed in McAllen.

Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark says one passenger and a crew member were treated and released.

But a 47-year-old woman who was in the lavatory at the time of the turbulence, as the seat belt signs were on, suffered a fractured neck.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Trey Fulp told The Monitor newspaper that the woman was thrown against the ceiling.

Doctors spent six hours operating on her back after the plane landed -- and the woman faces additional neck surgery. Fulp says the back injury left her paralyzed from the chest down.

Doctors aren't sure if the paralysis is permanent.

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