One person was confirmed dead after a Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport Tuesday following a possible engine explosion, the National Transportation Safety Board announced. Jennifer Riordan was the passenger killed on Flight 1380, which NTSB officials said contained 143 passengers and five crew members. Riordan was taken to a local hospital, where she died. Her identity was confirmed by Annunciation Catholic School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and announced by KOAT-TV.
Riordan was a business executive with Wells Fargo, reported Heavy.com.
On what appeared to be Riordan's Twitter profile, @jrior89, she described herself as “@wellsfargo proud Team Member. Wife, mom of two, baseball fan, wine and coffee lover, passionate about my community.”
Southwest Airlines released a statement about the death:
“We are deeply saddened to confirm that there is one fatality resulting from this accident. The entire Southwest Airlines Family is devastated and extends its deepest heartfelt sympathy to the customers, employees, family members, and loved ones affected by this tragic event. We have activated our emergency response team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy."
Along with the announcement, Southwest changed its logo on Twitter by turning the usual bright colors to gray.
An engine blast off the left wing of the Boeing 737-700 shortly after takeoff caused pieces of shrapnel to explode into the side of the plane and destroy the passenger's window. The Federal Aviation Administration told WCAU a person was partially sucked out of the aircraft although it wasn't clear to officials whether this was the person who later died at the hospital. The flight tracking website FlightRadar24 indicated the flight descended from nearly 32,000 feet to about 10,000 feet in about five minutes.
The Southwest Flight 1380 fatality is the first deadly U.S. airline incident in the country since February 2009. That Colgan Air crash took place in Clarence, New York, and killed all 49 passengers and crew on board the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 plane.
Several passengers shared photos of the damaged engine just behind the plane's left wing and adjacent to the potential victim's window seat. The pilot told air traffic control via radio that paramedics were needed upon landing shortly after the Dallas-bound flight took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport.
Another passenger onboard the flight, Marty Martinez, posted a Facebook Live video amid the chaos of the emergency landing showing himself holding his oxygen and declaring "Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!!"
"Engine exploded (we think) and shattered one of the windows killing a passenger. Flight attendants ran over calling for passengers to help cover the hole as they broke down and began uncontrollably crying and looking horrified as they looked outside. Plane dropped dramatically and it smelled like fire with ash coming down on everyone thru the vents. Absolutely terrifying, but we are okay," Martinez wrote in a follow-up Facebook comment on his own video.
Fire commissioner Adam Thiel told WCAU one passenger was rushed to Philadelphia hospital with critical injuries, although it wasn't clear if that passenger had died. Twelve other passengers were evaluated by medics on the scene, with seven of them being treated for minor injuries.
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