Man injured on Singapore Airlines flight says ordeal was 'like a movie'

Bradley Richards was left with six fractures in his spine and neck and internal bleeding
-Credit: (Image: Bradley Richards © SWNS)

A passenger onboard the turbulent Singapore Airlines flight that left one Brit dead says he won't be able to keep working as an engineer after suffering life-changing injuries. Bradley Richards, 29, was left with six fractures in his spine and neck and internal bleeding.

He was travelling on flight SQ321, from London to Singapore, when it was hit with turbulence over Myanmar. Geoff Kitchen, 73, from Thornbury, near Bristol, died from a suspected heart attack while many more were left with injuries.

Bradley believes he was knocked unconscious and woke up with blood pouring from his head. After using a pillow to stem the blood flow, he says he "immediately felt spinal pain" and had to be lifted into a wheelchair when the plane landed in Bangkok.

The telecoms engineer from Benfleet, Essex, described the experience as like "something out of a movie." And he believes his injuries mean he will have to potentially find a new line of work when he's fully recovered.

Early findings by The Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) show that the plane experienced a rapid change in acceleration upwards and downwards causing injuries to those without seatbelts on. Bradley said: "I was asleep or I think I might have been knocked unconscious when it happened.

Bradley's head injuries
Bradley's head injuries -Credit:Bradley Richards © SWNS

"I remember waking up and my head was just pouring with blood, kids were screaming, people running around everywhere, it was so frantic. It was like something out of a movie.

"I remember I felt the back pain straight away and blood was just pouring from my head. I tried to use my cushion to stem the blood - one of the ones they hand out for on the flights.

"Once we landed, I was near the back of the plane and I remember the medical staff running on and having to step over all the injured people on the floor. They couldn't get a stretcher to me so I was supported off the plane.

"I told them about my spinal pain and the workers had to pick me up, support me under my armpits and carry me to a wheelchair. I guess they couldn’t fit a stretcher right down the back because of the people on the floor or they might not have picked up on it due to all the chaos happening.

"I was just a bit quiet in the aftermath, to be honest - it all felt so surreal. I didn't scream or anything. It was just all so traumatic. When I came round and saw people on the floor, being stretchered - like I say, it felt like something from a movie, not real life."

Bradley pictured with a friend before the flight
Bradley pictured with a friend before the flight -Credit:Bradley Richards © SWNS

Doctors have told Bradley it's unlikely he'll able to return to work in his current role as an engineer. He said: "It's just gutting - I've worked in that role for seven years and I couldn't imagine doing anything else."

Bradley has been receiving treatment in a hospital in Bangkok and is currently unsure when he'll be able to return to the UK. He suffered multiple fractures to the spine and neck, a spinal epidural hematoma and a laceration to his head requiring 20 stitches.

Bradley said: "It’s not been pleasant I can assure you that, but I try my best to remain positive and the airline and hospital have been so good to me the health care is second to none." The TSIB preliminary investigation findings reveal that the plane dropped 178ft (54m) in just four seconds.

The agency says it likely caused the injuries to the crew and passengers. Authorities believe Mr Kitchen died from a suspected heart attack after the extreme turbulence.

He had been travelling with his wife for a six-week holiday to Singapore, Indonesia and Australia. Bradley's GoFundMe to support his recovery can be found here.