TODAY   |  February 18, 2014

5 injured by severe turbulence on United flight

Five people were injured, one critically, as a jet encountered severe turbulence on a flight from Denver to Montana. Passengers share their harrowing stories this morning. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> let's talk about the drama and injuries caused by severe turbulence on a flight from denver, colorado, to billings, montana. tom costello covers aviation for us and he's joining us now from washington. tom, good morning.

>> hi, matt, good morning. this was united flight 1676 making a midday run from denver to billings. one flight attendant remains in critical condition , one of several people injured when that plane hit violent turbulence.

>> the plane turned very sharply to the right and then started plunging and just everything flew out of everybody's hands.

>> the united airlines 737 was beginning its descent when it dropped violently causing one woman to hit her head on the ceiling so hard the panel itself cracked. other parents say an infant was thrown from its parents' arms landing safely two rows away.

>> i could hear her yelling my baby, my baby.

>> after the control tower directed the plane in.

>> on a three-mile final --

>> a full maintenance expectation was ordered upon its landing. the flight was carrying 114 passengers along with 5 crew members at the time of the incident. five people were treated at area hospitals. this morning, one remains in critical condition .

>> very scary flight. in a statement united airlines says the flight encountered severe turbulence upon descent into billings. three crew members and a number of passengers injured. our primary focus is assisting employees and passengers who were injured. and our flight safety team will review what happened. matt, back to you.

>> tom costello in washington. tom, thanks very much. scary.