Payout for air hostess unable to work after turbulence broke leg in seven places

Air hostess Eden Garrity, broke her ankle and leg in seven places after the plane flew through a huge storm
-Credit: (Image: SWNS)


An air hostess left unable to do her dream job after breaking her leg in seven places during severe turbulence has won a six-figure payout. Eden Garrity, 31, was pushing a trolley as the Thomas Cook flight from Cuba to Manchester entered a violent Atlantic hail storm.

The impact of the turbulence thrust the flight 500ft upward, pinning Eden to the ground and snapping her ankle. Eden was unable to walk at all for two months after the incident and underwent numerous operations and intense rehabilitation.

She has been left with nerve damage which makes it painful for her to stand up for long periods, meaning she can never return to work as cabin crew. And while the payout has been a massive help for her financially, Eden says it doesn't make up for the fact that she'll never do her dream job again.

She said: “It has left me bitter, I’m resentful for it. It’s just frustrating. It was the best job in the world and I feel like I've lost a piece of my personality. You see people you’re friends with and they’re travelling in the skies and I’m not, I’m forever grounded. I’ll never be able to fly for work again.

Injuries Eden Garrity's leg
Injuries Eden Garrity's leg -Credit:SWNS

“I feel lost, I’ve got a family and a son and it is great, but I’m very restricted in terms of what I can do. I miss making memories, seeing different countries. If not for the accident I’d have been able to fly in the future and it’s horrible.

"I appreciate the payout but it doesn’t bring back what I’ve lost. It helps in terms off getting my own property, but I’m 31 and I have the rest of my life ahead of me and I can’t do what I want to do."

Eden, of Leigh, Greater Manchester, was left lying on the floor of the plane for an hour while seats were cleared after the turbulence hit the flight. She was laid across the back row of the plane in agony and eventually rushed to hospital as soon as they landed in Manchester - seven hours later.

Doctors said the impact of the plane floor was ‘like a sledgehammer’ hitting her foot. She'd broken her fibula in five places, her tibia once, fractured the side of her foot and cracked her ankle bone.

Eden needed surgery to insert screws and metal plates inside her leg, as well as a huge external metal brace, and couldn't walk for two months. The aircraft had taken a detour of around 100 miles to avoid adverse weather conditions as it crossed the Atlantic in August 2019.

Injuries Eden Garrity's leg
Injuries Eden Garrity's leg -Credit:SWNS

But Eden says she and other crew members had not been made aware of the risk of turbulence either during the journey, or at the pre-flight staff briefing. She said: "Usually if we’re going to have some turbulence on the they’ll tell us before the flight and let us know what the plans are.

"For example, they might say ‘we’re going to put the seatbelt signs on’ or ‘we’re not going to release you’. The doctor said it was like a sledgehammer hitting the bottom of my foot.

"Six passengers lifted me up and over to lay me across three seats at the back of the plane and the ambulance was waiting at the airport for me. I wasn’t one of those people who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up.

"I wasn’t particularly academic, and I didn’t go to university, but when the opportunity to become an air hostess came my way, I felt like I had found my path in life. I absolutely loved my job, and I knew I had found my calling, so to speak.

"So to suffer from injuries that were so severe that I literally couldn’t return after the incident has been utterly heartbreaking. I suffered from depression and was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety."

Injuries Eden Garrity's leg
Injuries Eden Garrity's leg -Credit:SWNS

Describing the incident shortly after it happened in 2020, Eden said the pilot had asked crew members to be seated five seconds before the plane hit the storm. But Eden did not have time secure the cart and sit down before the severe turbulence.

The 27-year-old was suddenly pinned to the ground. Eden said at the time: "We hit a massive hail storm. The pilot said to me afterwards that it turned black all around him. It was by far the worst turbulence I have ever experienced as a crew member or a passenger.

”It was absolutely terrifying. The plane shot up 500ft within seconds. The force of the turbulence pinned me to the ground and forced me towards the floor.

“My feet were locked to the ground and my ankle just completely snapped. I didn’t realise what had happened until I tried to take a step and I collapsed. My ankle was at a right angle and I just started screaming. The bottom of my foot was facing to the side.

“My body went into shock and I just started panicking. Eden was on the floor for an hour while the seats around her were cleared.

It was midway through the flight when the 'excruciating pain' kicked in. She added: “The pain started when my shoes were taken off and I was put in a splint."

Eden Garrity at work before the accident
Eden Garrity at work before the accident -Credit:SWNS

Eden was rushed to Wythenshawe Hospital as soon as the Thomas Cook flight, from Cuba, landed in Manchester. The AAIB accident report file said the plane experienced "unexpected severe turbulence" lasting 90 seconds.

"The aircraft encountered severe turbulence resulting in a 500ft altitude gain autopilot disconnection," it said. "It was accompanied by the sound of hail striking the aircraft's nose."

Eden spent nine days in hospital.

Eden Garrity at work before the accident
Eden Garrity at work before the accident -Credit:SWNS

Lawyers from Thompsons Solicitors argued staff should have been made aware the flight would encounter poor flying weather and additional precautions should have been put in place. While Thomas Cook’s insurers denied responsibility for her injuries, Eden has received an undisclosed compensation care package worth six figures.

Injury law expert Neil Richards, who represented Eden, said: “The circumstances surrounding the incident in which Miss Garrity sustained her injuries should have been foreseen. The issue of inflight safety, especially when working in certain geographical regions including the Caribbean, carries a known health and safety risk.

Eden Garrity in a wheelchair following the incident
Eden Garrity in a wheelchair following the incident -Credit:SWNS

"Turbulence also represents an obvious and serious danger to all those onboard, and especially to airline staff who are required to work in and around the cabin in such environments."

Unite legal director Stephen Pinder said: "I am pleased with the result achieved for our member and their family. Unite will be taking the lessons learned during this case back into our industrial work to help ensure other airline staff are protected from similar incidents.”