Jennifer Riordan, was a vice president of community relations for Wells Fargo bank, has passed away after a tragic accident onboard a flight from new York to Dallas. The Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 blew an engine at 32,000ft and is understood to have been in a window seat, where the window blew out and she was sucked through as a result of depressurisation. Riordan was hit by shrapnel and dragged out of the window, and fellow passengers fought to drag her back inside. Passenger Alfred Tumlinson said that a man in a cowboy hat had rushed forward from a few rows "to grab that lady to pull her back in but he "couldn't do it by himself, so another gentleman came over and helped to get her back in the plane, and they got her".
Apparently, Riordan was completely out of the plane from her waist up and the passengers have been praised for their efforts to save her, giving her CPR after they managed to pull her back in and plugging the hole in the window themselves. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said the passengers had done "some pretty amazing things under some pretty difficult circumstances". Tragically, Riordan had been so seriously injured that their efforts were in vain and she died later, several other people suffered minor injuries in the incident. Passengers have praised the actions of pilot Tammie Jo Shults, who is said to have walked between the aisles on the plane making sure that all of the passengers were okay. Alfred Tumlinson said: "She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her. I'm going to send her a Christmas card, I'm going to tell you that, with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome."
Jennifer Riordan was the first passenger to die in an accident involving an American airline since 2009. She was well known in her New Mexico community, where she had built a career over more than two decades in community relations and communications after graduating from the University of New Mexico. Governor Susana Martinez called her “an incredible woman who put her family and community first” and said her loss would be felt across the state. “The hearts of all New Mexicans are with the Riordan family,” Martinez said in her statement on Tuesday. In an email to parents, Amy McCarty, the assistant principal of Albuquerque Catholic school, wrote: “The family needs all the prayers we can offer.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Southwest Airlines said there were 143 passengers on board, along with five crew members: "We are in the process of gathering more information. Safety is always our top priority at Southwest Airlines, and we are working diligently to support our customers and crews at this time." The incident is the first of its kind in Southwest's 50 year old history, and investigations are ongoing after the engine showed evidence of "metal fatigue" with one fan blade separated and missing.