Mum-of-two dies after being partially sucked out of plane window during US jet ‘explosion’

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

A woman has died after she was partially sucked through the window of a plane when an engine reportedly exploded in midair.

Mother-of-two Jennifer Riordan died after an engine on the left side of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 apparently blew, causing cabin depressurisation and sending her nearly crashing out of a smashed window.

Other passengers on the Boeing 737-700, that was flying to Dallas, Texas, from New York’s La Guardia airport, pulled Ms Riordan back in.

A woman has died following the apparent explosion on a Southwest Airlines flight (Twitter/@joeasaprap)
Jennifer Riordan, from New Mexico, died after nearly being sucked out of the plane window (AP)
National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane (AP)

In the air traffic control recording, pilot Tammie Jo Shults is heard saying: ‘We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.’

Asked if the plane is on fire, she says it is not but adds: ‘They said there is a hole and someone went out.’

The plane, that was carrying 143 passengers and five crew, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

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One passenger had been taken to hospital in a critical condition while seven other people were treated for minor injuries at the scene, according to the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Passenger Timothy Bourman, a pastor from New York City, praised the actions of the pilot for averting a disaster.

He said: ‘All the sudden, it felt like we dropped 100 feet.

‘We were kind of out of control for a while. It seemed like the pilot was having a hard time controlling the plane. Honestly I think we just all thought we were going down.

‘We’re just all really thankful to be alive right now. Thankful to God, thankful to that pilot.’

Another passenger, Marty Martinez, told CBS News that he saw one injured woman being taken off the plane by rescuers.

He said: ‘There was blood everywhere.

The Southwest Airlines plane sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing (AP)
Passenger Jim Demetros hugs his wife Cindy as she arrives from their home in Connecticut to pick him after the incident (AP)

‘First there was an explosion and then almost immediately the oxygen masks came down and probably within a matter of 10 seconds the engine hit a window and busted it wide open.’

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said a preliminary investigation found that an engine fan blade was missing, while there was evidence of metal fatigue at the point where it had apparently broken off.

In a statement, Southwest said: ‘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.’

The US Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation.