SAN FRANCISCO-- The number of people in critical condition has fallen from 10 to 5 at San Francisco General Hospital, which took in dozens of injured passengers from the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed Saturday, hospital officials said.
Among the 34 patients treated at San Francisco General, the more serious injuries included bone fractures and spinal injuries, said Dr. Chris Barton, chief of emergency services. They were the result of "the force of the plane going down,” Barton said. Eleven of those being treated there were children.
Stanford University Medical Center has evaluated 45 patients, and has also seen spinal fractures, as well as internal bleeding. Seven other Bay Area hospitals also saw injured passengers.
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Barton said, generally speaking, the type of spinal fractures the hospital saw result from falls, in which vertebrae can compress or burst. He said victims have also suffered blunt force injuries to the head, which can cause bleeding, concussions or contusions.
Of patients and family members he said: "Some are in shock. … Some are stunned. "
He said the mood in the family waiting area was "subdued."
He said this was one of the most major multiple-casualty incidents he's seen. Hospital officials had to erect tents and cleared out a pediatric unit to make room for crash victims.
"This is the first time for as long as I can remember where we've actually had to use the tents,” Barton said.
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed at SFO just before 11:30 a.m. Saturday. There were 307 people on board the aircraft, including 16 crew members.
The flight originated in Shanghai and stopped in Seoul before heading to San Francisco. According to the authorities, 182 were transported to hospitals, including 49 who were in serious condition.
A passenger aboard the Asiana Airlines flight said the plane’s final approach was too low just before it slammed into the runway.
Moments before the crash, passenger Benjamin Levy said he looked out the window and saw the piers in San Francisco Bay just off the airport runway -- and they were way too close to the plane. "We were too low, too soon," he said.
"He was going down pretty fast, and I think he just realized he was down too fast," Levy said.
The pilot then pushed on the engines "just as we were about to hit the water."
"I think the pilot must have realized because the pilot tried to pull the plane back up," Levy told The Times in a phone interview. "We hit pretty hard. And I thought the wheels were gone for sure."
He felt the plane crash -- and heard the screams of passengers -- but the aircraft stayed on its belly as it landed hard on a grassy area next to the runway.
Levy, 39, lives in San Francisco and was in Asia on business for his company, BootstrapLabs, which invests in technology companies. His wife was in Korea with him for the first part of the trip but flew home early to be with their two children, Levy said.
It was "a blessing she wasn't on the plane," he said.
Levy, said he was sitting in seat 30K, which he said was "right behind the wing on the right-hand side."