3 people on SkyWest flight lose consciousness, forcing emergency landing

Three people aboard a SkyWest airlines flight on its way to Connecticut lost consciousness Wednesday, causing the plane to be diverted, descend steeply and make an emergency landing in New York.

The flight was carrying 75 passengers as it departed from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. It had been bound for Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., before it made its landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 11: 40 a.m.

A SkyWest spokeswoman initially said that one passenger aboard Flight 5622, operating under United Express, lost consciousness and the pilots started their steep descent “out of an abundance of caution.”

However, SkyWest spokeswoman Marissa Snow said in a later statement that new information from medical personnel confirmed that “a total of three passengers reported a total loss of consciousness while on the flight.”

The plane descended at a very steep incline for 8 minutes, dropping as fast as 7,000 feet per minute, flight tracking service FlightAware said.

SkyWest Inc., which is based in St. George, Utah, earlier had said the jet landed safely and a passenger received medical attention before being released.

An additional 15 adults and two children were evaluated upon landing, but none required treatment outside the airport, airport spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said.

"Anyone who said they didn't feel well was treated at the gate," he said.

In an earlier emailed statement, Snow said, "There were no reports before the unconscious passenger prior to the initiated descent, but I can't speak to what may have been the specific cause of their feeling ill."

"The passengers were evaluated by medical responders on the ground in Buffalo and were released; none were transported to the hospital," Snow said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said initial information indicted the jet may have had a pressurization problem, but that turned out to be incorrect.

Snow said the plane's oxygen masks did not release.

"After examination by maintenance personnel and local authorities, there have been no indications of a pressurization problem or other issues with the aircraft," Snow said. "Our investigation is ongoing."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.