Published: Jul 21, 2010 11:28 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 21, 2010 8:28 AM EDT

   DENVER (AP) - A United Airlines jetliner was diverted to Denver
after 30 people onboard were injured, one critically, when the
plane hit severe turbulence while flying over Kansas, the Federal
Aviation Administration said.
      The flight originated at Dulles International Airport near
Washington, D.C., and was headed to Los Angeles. It landed safely
at around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday at Denver International Airport, where
it was met by medical crews, Denver Fire Department spokesman Eric
Tade said.
      FAA spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said 26 passengers and
four crew members were injured. He said one person was critically
hurt, but he released no further details.
      Officials said many of the injured were transported to a handful
of area hospitals with only moderate injuries. By late Tuesday,
some had been released or were expected to be released.
      "There are mostly walking injuries," Tade told The Denver
Post. He said the injuries included bruises, whiplash, strains and
sprains.
      Some passengers were placed on another flight to Los Angeles
that arrived there just before midnight.
      Flight 967 was flying over Kansas at an altitude of about 34,000
feet when it hit the heavy turbulence, said FAA spokesman Mike
Fergus in Seattle. It was carrying 255 passengers and 10 crew
members.
      The turbulence was "just a huge up and down," said passenger
Kaoma Bechaz, a 19-year-old Australian in the United States
visiting her boyfriend.
      Bechaz told the Post that the head of the woman sitting next to
her hit the side of the cabin, leaving a crack above the window,
and a girl across the aisle flew into the air and hit the ceiling.
      Bechaz said she wasn't thrown around because her seat belt was
tight.
      United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the crew decided
to be safe and land the Boeing 777 in Denver to tend to the
injured.
      The seven patients taken to Denver Health - all women - were
being evaluated but likely would be treated and released Tuesday
night, spokeswoman Dee Martinez said.
      Three people went to Swedish Hospital in Englewood with moderate
injuries, spokeswoman Julie Lonborg said. A 12-year-old was taken
to Children's Hospital in Aurora, but a spokeswoman there didn't
know the nature of the child's injury.
      Two people were treated and released from the University of
Colorado Hospital and two others were being evaluated, spokeswoman
Erika Matich said.
      United was working to find flights for the uninjured passengers
Tuesday night. Airline spokesman Michael Trevino told the Post that
a special United flight took off for Los Angeles at 9:30 p.m.
carrying many passengers from the diverted plane.
      Tim Smith of Boulder was on United Flight 937, which also flew
into Denver from Washington on Tuesday and landed after the
diverted plane. He said his flight was delayed an hour and 20
minutes because of thunderstorms, but didn't have any problems.
      Smith saw ambulances and police cars surrounding a gate on the
tarmac and one person on a stretcher when his plane taxied to the
gate at the Denver airport.
      "Thank God I wasn't on that flight," Smith said.
      Meanwhile, Gregor said inspectors found "no obvious damage" to
the diverted plane's exterior. They also found nothing wrong during
a preliminary look at the plane's interior. But Fergus said the FAA
and the National Transportation Safety Board will be looking more
closely.
      He said the incident would be a "front-burner item" for both
agencies.
      United Airlines has had other rocky flights this year.
      In February, about 20 people were injured when a United flight
experienced turbulence halfway through a 13-hour trip from
Washington, D.C., to Tokyo. The Boeing 747 had 263 people onboard.
      In May, 10 people suffered injuries, including broken bones, on
a United flight that hit severe turbulence over the Atlantic Ocean
on its way from London to Los Angeles. The Boeing 777 was diverted
to Montreal.