At least 2 paralyzed in San Francisco plane crash, doctor says

SAN FRANCISCO --  The crash of an Asiana Airlines jetliner in San Francisco on Saturday left at least two people paralyzed with spinal injuries,  the chief of surgery at a hospital treating crash victims said Sunday.

Eight people remained in critical condition Sunday following the crash that killed two passengers.


Margaret Knudson, chief of surgery at San Francisco General Hospital, said the injured arrived in three waves at the hospital -- life-threatening injuries first, seriously hurt next, and the rest in a bus.

"Whoever triages patients at the airport did a fantastic job," she said. Knudson said at least two may not have survived had they not arrived in time.

Of the 53 patients treated at San Francisco General, 34 have been discharged and 19 remain hospitalized, hospital spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said. Six of them, including one minor girl, are in critical condition, she said. The others range in condition from good to serious.

Stanford Hospital said Sunday that it treated 55 patients from the Asiana crash, 11 of whom were admitted. Two of those patients were listed in critical condition about noon Sunday; the others were either in fair or good condition.

Another seven were taken to Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, officials said, and were listed in good condition Sunday.

Three of the patients at San Francisco General went directly into surgery -- Knudson herself led one of the teams. The most seriously hurt patients had abdominal injuries, spinal fractures causing paralysis, and injuries to the head, she said. Some also suffered sternum fractures from a seat in front collapsing on them.

Knudson said two of the critical patients had "road rash" all over their bodies -- back, face, extremities -- suggesting they may have been dragged along the pavement. She said she was surprised to see those injuries and wasn't sure how the patients ended up with them.

She said most of the patients at the hospital were sitting toward the back of the plane, and two may be stewardesses but hadn't been identified. Knudson, who treated trauma patients in Iraq in 2008 with the Air Force, said she performed two surgeries Saturday -- abdominal and thoracic -- and had many more ahead.

A relative of one of the injured -- Nancy, who did not want her last name used -- said she was arriving at San Francisco General to be there for her brother's spinal surgery. His wife, who was also on the Asiana flight with their 7-year-old son, was in a neck brace.

The family, from Hangzhou, China, were arriving for a vacation and were seated in row 31. It was the boy who first thought something was wrong, Nancy said.

"My nephew said the plane was flying so low he thought it would go into the ocean," she said.

The boy's father, who is about 40 years old and among those in critical condition, needs surgery to put titanium in his neck, she said.

On Saturday night, all 307 on board had been accounted for, authorities said. A total of 182 people had been transported to hospitals, including 49 in serious condition. Among the passengers were 77 Korean citizens, 141 Chinese, 61 Americans and one Japanese, according to South Korea-based Asiana.

Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency said the two passengers killed in the crash, both 16 years old, were from China. Asiana Flight 214 originated in Shanghai and stopped in Seoul before flying to San Francisco International Airport.


Thousands of passengers were stranded at San Francisco International Airport after Saturday's crash, which shut down its runways for much of the afternoon.