On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that a woman named Jennifer Riordan died after a Southwest Airlines plane engine exploded, forcing it to make an emergency landing. According to AP, shrapnel from the burst engine hit Riordan and killed her. The 43-year-old was a bank executive and mother of two children originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Soon after the Southwest Airlines flight 1380 made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, the company issued a statement and extended its condolences to the people affected by the horrific incident. The company said,
Boeing extends its deepest condolences to the family of the passenger who passed away as a result of today’s incident on SWA Flight 1380. Our thoughts are with all of the passengers and crew who were on board the flight and with the entire Southwest Airlines family. A Boeing technical team is providing assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as the agency conducts its investigation.
CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, held a press conference and said, "This is a sad day and our hearts go out to the family and the loved ones of the deceased customer." The CEO told reporters that he did not know about any pre-existing issues with the plane's engine and added that it had been checked on April 15.
Riordan's death was confirmed by an announcement made by the Annunciation Catholic School, where her two children go. According to The Albuquerque Journal, the school released a statement and said, "She was in route from New York when her plane experience [sic] trouble." The school added, "At this point, the family needs all the prayers we can offer."
Soon after Riordan's death was confirmed, Albuquerque's mayor Tim Keller also released a statement and 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."
Keller added, "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." Other local community figures such as Attorney General Hector Balderas spoke of Riordan and said that she was an important figure in Albuquerque, according to KOAT. Time and again, the mother of two was praised for her involvement in community issues.
According to Philadelphia-based Inquirer, the narrated first accounts from the emergency flight were terrifying. At 32,000 feet in the air, the Southwest plane's engine exploded and smashed the window near Riordan. NBC 10 reported that that passengers quickly rushed to pull Riordan away from the broken window while the plane depressurized.
In one particularly disturbing video, another passenger named Marty Martinez recorded the chaos that ensued on the same Southwest flight 1380. CNN shared the video in which a visibly-scared Martinez can be seen hurriedly putting an oxygen mask on himself as the plane rattles and descends.
Martinez told CNN that he heard two explosions. The first one was presumably the plane's engine bursting. The second one, Martinez said, sounded like a window smashing open. He told CNN that he saw a woman's body, now identified as Riordan, partially hanging outside of the window and that another male passenger was holding onto her tightly. Later on, Martinez said that the man "had blood all over his hands."
On social media, Twitter users expressed sympathy for Riordan's family. Erica Zucco of KOB4 said Riordan's family shared photos of her with her loved ones and said, "In her memory, please remember to always be kind, loving, caring, and sharing."