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United Airlines flight bound for LAX diverted in Colorado after passengers become ill

United Airlines flight bound for LAX diverted in Colorado after passengers become ill
A United Airlines jet en route from Denver to Los Angeles was diverted to Grand Junction, Colo., and met by firefighters after several passengers reported feeling ill. (Shawn Montgomery / Grand Junction Fire Department)

One person was taken to the hospital after a United Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles was diverted shortly after takeoff Wednesday. At least one person vomited, and several reported headaches and nausea, officials said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, United Flight 447 was traveling from Denver to LAX on Thursday about 9 a.m. when it declared an emergency and diverted to Grand Junction, Colo.

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An airline spokeswoman said the diversion was due to a "medical issue" on board. Emergency medical personnel received a call to respond about 9:15 a.m. and met the plane on the tarmac, according to local fire officials.

"When we got on scene and boarded the aircraft, our firefighters did not detect any abnormal oxygen levels, [carbon dioxide] levels, and everyone was alert and oriented," said Shawn Montgomery, a spokesman for the Grand Junction Fire Department.

Firefighters evaluated 10 to 15 passengers, who reported feeling light-headed, nauseous and having headaches, Montgomery said. All of them were sitting next to or near the person who initially became ill, Montgomery said. That person was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

"It looks like there was a medical event with one person, and that caused a little bit of a chain reaction in several other people," Montgomery said, adding that the incident created a "stressful situation" on the aircraft.

"There were zero air quality deficiencies, there was really no other reason for it," he said.

There were initial reports of smoke in the cabin, but Montgomery said it may have been dust.

Oxygen masks were deployed after the crew received reports of "multiple ill customers," United said, and decided to divert the 150 passengers and six crew members.

Passengers continuing on to Los Angeles will be placed on a different plane, the airline said, and maintenance workers will be checking the plane to look for any potential technical problems.

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc on Twitter.

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