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Woman paralyzed after turbulent descent

A South Texas woman remained paralyzed Monday after her Continental Airlines flight from Houston to McAllen experienced severe turbulence.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A South Texas woman remained paralyzed Monday after her Continental Airlines flight from Houston to McAllen experienced severe turbulence.

Three people in all were taken to a local hospital Saturday when Continental flight 511 landed in McAllen at 2:17 a.m., said Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark.

One passenger and a crew member were treated and released, Clark said.

But a 47-year-old woman who was in the airplane's restroom at the time of the turbulence suffered a fractured neck, Dr. Trey Fulp, an orthopedic spine surgeon at McAllen Medical Center told The McAllen Monitor Monday. The woman, who Fulp did not identify for privacy reasons, was thrown against the ceiling.

Doctors spent six hours operating on her back after the plane landed Saturday and planned to operate on her neck Monday. The back injury left her paralyzed from the chest down, Fulp said. It was unclear if the paralysis would be permanent, he said.

The flight's departure from Houston had been delayed, but the plane had begun its descent into McAllen when it encountered "sudden turbulence." The seat belt signs were illuminated at the time, Clark said.