A New Mexico woman died after being partially sucked out of a plane window early Tuesday morning while in flight from New York to Dallas.
An engine explosion on Southwest Flight 1380 caused a passenger’s window to break just before noon, which nearly pulled Jennifer Riordan, 43, out of the plane 32,000 feet above Philadelphia, NBC reports.
"The plane dropped immediately," said Matt Tranchin, who was sitting three rows behind Riordan. "Plane smelled like smoke. Ash was all around us."
Officials reported that the aircraft’s engine was missing one of its fan blades and there was evidence of metal fatigue.
Those aboard the flight scrambled to put their oxygen masks on as the plane’s cabin depressurized. The airliner had only been in the air for about 20 minutes when it began dropping thousands of feet per minute, passengers said.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 17, 2018
According to passengers, Riordan’s body was sucked out of the Boeing 737’s small window up to her waist and her blood painted the windows around her.
"You hear the pop and she was sucked out from the waist up," one passenger told NBC's Nightly News. "There was blood on the windows...her arms were actually out of the airplane and her head was out of the airplane."
Other passengers on the flight managed to pull Riordan back into the plane and performed CPR for about 20 minutes to no avail.
"It just wasn't going to be enough," said Peggy Phillips, a nurse who helped perform CPR on Riordan.
Riordan was pronounced dead at the hospital after the plane landed in Philadelphia.
Riordan was an Albuquerque bank executive and left behind two children.
Of the 144 passengers and five crew members aboard the Boeing 737, seven sustained minor injuries as a result of the engine malfunction.
One passenger praised the crew for handling the terrifying ordeal with “nerves of steel.”
"The crew and the pilot…that lady has the nerves of steel…at this point you don’t know where you’re going you don’t know where you’re going to end up, you just have to keep everybody calm," Alfred Tumlinson told NBC.
The pilot was identified as Tammie Jo Shults.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly issued a statement Tuesday evening regarding the tragic incident.
“I am immensely grateful there are no other reports of injuries but truly this is a tragic loss,” he said. “This is a sad day and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased customer please join us in offering our thoughts and prayers and support to all those affected by today's tragedy.”
Southwest Airlines will begin enhanced inspections procedures of all their airplanes, according to Kelly.
This is the first onboard death in Southwest Airlines’ 51 years of operation. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Robert Sumwalt told CBS that Riordan’s death was the first U.S. airline fatality since 2009.