PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An Allegiant Airlines flight from Punta Cana to Pittsburgh had to make an emergency landing in Florida Thursday afternoon after hitting serious turbulence.

“My first thought was, ‘This is it,’” said Heather Osborne, one of the passengers. “I never experienced this before, this type of turbulence before. It was really, really scary.”

Allegiant Air Flight 7001 left Punta Cana bound for Pittsburgh when mild turbulence over the Bahamas turned into something much more frightening.

“We must of hit, what they’re saying, a ‘clear air turbulence,’ and we went up, down and up again,” said one of the passengers after arriving back in Pittsburgh. “Our flight attendant hit the top of the plane, came back down, and went up. The lady cater-corner to me flew out of her seat and into the aisle.”

The plane was diverted around 1:30 p.m. Thursday to make an emergency landing in Florida at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport around 2:45 p.m.

Allegiant Airlines says initial reports indicate the plane, a charter service operated on behalf of Apple Vacations, hit “unreported moderate air turbulence.”

“Just normal turbulence, and suddenly, the plane just was taking a nose dive,” said Malachi Witt, another passengers. “It felt like I was on a roller coaster just going straight down.”

“I thought I was going to die. It felt like, really scary,” said passenger Scott Gustafson.

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Three passengers and four Allegiant Air crew members were taken to the hospital. Emergency medical personnel met the plane and started treating those who were injured right away.

“You name it, anything that was loose was on the ceiling, including people, and came to an abrupt stop,” said another passenger after arriving in back in Pittsburgh. “Fortunately, as far as I know, there was no serious injuries.”

A total of 137 passengers and six crew members were on the plane.

Late Thursday, a plane left Florida to bring the passengers back to Pittsburgh.

“I’m definitely scared going back to Pittsburgh right now,” said Osborne. “Scary thinking of going in the plane again, going back up and coming back down. I was always scared the going up and coming back down part. I never thought about the turbulence part; even just the ride there is scary now.

The plane arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport around 11:15 p.m.

There’s no word on the condition of those who were injured.

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David Highfield