An Irish American mother-of-two died after the engine of a Southwest Airlines flight exploded at 32,000 feet.
The woman who died when a Southwest Airlines engine exploded midair on Tuesday has been named as Jennifer Riordan, the Vice President of Community Relations at Wells Fargo Bank in Albuquerque, N.M. The Irish American mother-of-two was almost sucked through the window of the plane after shrapnel from the engine pierced the fuselage.
The pilots made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, but Riordan died of her injuries. Flight 1380 was en route from New York City’s LaGuardia International Airport to Dallas Love Field.
A passenger on the flight, Matt Tranchin, told ABC he saw a “huge explosion and glass shatter three rows ahead of me.”
“Flight attendants rushed up… There was momentary chaos. Everyone kind of descended on where this hole was. As passengers, we weren’t sure if they were trying to cover up the hole, but the plane smelled like smoke. There was ash coming through the ventilation system.”
“We started dropping… Some of the crew couldn’t hold back their horror. And some were crying as they looked out through the open window onto the engine.”
Passengers posted photos from inside the plane including oxygen masks, the blown-out window and the remains of the engine.
(Michael and Jennifer Riordan and their children)
Another passenger Cassie Adams said minutes after the oxygen masked back down the window two rows behind her blew out “and the woman was sucked out.”
Adams told ABC “Two brave men immediately responded and helped grab her and tried to pull her back in.” The two men performed CPR on her, according to Adams. She said one of them stood in front of the window so no one else would be injured. ,” Adams said.
Another passenger from Albuquerque, New Mexico, also confirmed Riordan was “partially sucked out of the window.”
“I talked to the guy who pulled her back in, and he said that … her head, when she flew out the window, hit the window and she died on impact.
“And then there was a nurse who helped to pull her back in, but before we knew what was really going on you could feel the plane instantly dropping.”
This is the first accidental death on a domestic US flight in nine years, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Seven people suffered minor injuries and were not taken to hospitals, officials said. The NTSB said 144 passengers and five crew members were on board.
Riordan, originally from New Mexico, had traveled to New York on a business trip, according to her personal Twitter profile.
Her husband Michael Riordan was the former chief operating officer for the city of Albuquerque.
In a statement Riordan’s family confirmed her death. It read:
“Jennifer Riordan has passed away as a result of previously reported events on Southwest Airlines Flight No. 1380. Jennifer’s vibrancy, passion and love infused our community and reached across our country. Her impact on everything and everyone she touched can never be fully measured.
“But foremost, she is the bedrock of our family. She and Mike wrote a love story unlike any other. Her beauty and love is evident through her children. We are so appreciative of the outpouring of support from family, friends and our community.”
The Mayor of the city, Tim Keller, said “Today, Albuquerque lost a thoughtful leader who has long been part of the fabric of our community.
“We are asking that everyone respects the privacy of the family at this time. This is a tremendous and tragic loss for Jennifer’s family and many others throughout our city.”
“Her leadership and philanthropic efforts made this a better place every day and she will be terribly missed. We are holding Jennifer and her family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly described Riordan’s death as a “tragic loss” but expressed gratitude that no one else was seriously injured.”
At a press conference on Tuesday he said, “This is a sad day, and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased customer.”
(Pilot Tammie Jo Shults)
Kelly commended the crew and described the flight’s captain as “very experienced,” adding that he started at the company in 1994 and has been a captain “for well over a decade.”
“They did their jobs superbly today,” Kelly added.
Pilot Tammie Jo Shults (56) is being widely praised for landing the Southwest Airlines flight safely in Philadelphia. Shults served as the first female fighter pilot in the US Navy before taking on commercial flying.
Article courtesy of Irish Central.