(SAN FRANCISCO) — Doctors treating passengers injured in the Asiana Airlines plane crash Sunday in San Francisco say at least two people are paralyzed from severe spine fractures and others have head trauma and abdominal injuries with internal bleeding.
Only two people, both 16-year-old girls from China, died as a result of the crash, but San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes White says that number, unfortunately, could rise due to the severity of some of the injuries.
San Francisco General has treated 53 patients — the most of any hospital. Doctors say 19 patients are still in the hospital as of Sunday afternoon, six of whom are in critical condition with life threatening injuries, including one young girl. The oldest hospitalized adult is 76 years old.
Dr. Margaret Knudson, chief of surgery at San Francisco General Hospital, says that most of the injured were sitting in the back of the plane. Speaking at a press conference Sunday, she said patients with the most severe injuries appear to have suffered them from being thrown around while restrained in seat belts.
“One of the patients we talked to said that the seats in front of her all collapsed and came at her. She was sitting in her seat and that’s how she got her injuries,” Knudson said. “We’ve also seen a large number of chest injuries with fractures of the sternum.”
She said the most critical injuries are head trauma, and severe inter-abdominal injuries with internal bleeding.
Several patients are being treated for “road rash” type injuries as well.
“This type of road rash is what we see with people who have a motorcycle crash and they’re not wearing leathers,” Knudson explained. “It’s that type of injury and we don’t know how they got it, but we were a little surprised to see it.”
Knudson complimented the triage at the airport, saying that it could have been much worse had it not been so great.
“Whoever triaged these patients at the airport did a fabulous job because they got to us the sickest patients in the shortest period of time or I don’t think those patients would have survived, truly.”
A total of 182 people were injured in the crash.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Laura Goehler, CNN
Michael Nedelman, CNN
Robert Mclean, CNN