PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Officials say a passenger has died after a Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on Tuesday morning after a reported engine fire. The plane was flying from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field.

A bank executive and mother of two from New Mexico has been identified as the woman who died after a Southwest Airlines jet plane blew an engine and got hit by shrapnel that smashed a window.

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News of Jennifer Riordan’s death was first shared by the assistant principal of the Albuquerque Catholic school attended by her two children.

Jennifer Riordan


In an email to parents, assistant principal Amy McCarty wrote that “the family needs all the prayers we can offer.”

Riordan was a vice president of community relations for Wells Fargo bank. She was the wife of Michael Riordan, who served until recently as the chief operating officer for the city of Albuquerque.

The New Mexico Broadcasters Association on social media said Riordan was a graduate of the University of New Mexico and former board member.

The NTSB says it appears the left engine failed in-flight. Tracking data shows the flight was heading west over New York’s southern tier when it abruptly turned toward Philadelphia around 11:15 a.m.

The plane landed safely and taxied to a remote area of the runway where passengers were taken off after 11 a.m. Chopper 3 video shows a broken plane window and damage to the left engine of the plane.

Officials say pieces flew out of the engine and pierced the fuselage of the plane.

The National Transportation Safety Board says a preliminary examination of the blown jet engine shows evidence of “metal fatigue.”

In a late night news conference, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said one of the engine’s fan blades was separated and missing. Sumwalt says the blade was separated at the point where it would come into the hub and there was evidence of metal fatigue.

According to Sumwalt, part of the engine covering was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) west of Philadelphia.

The plane’s recorders have been secured.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel says firefighters responded to an engine fire and fuel leak around 11:10 a.m.

A passenger was taken to the hospital in critical condition, where she later died.

Seven other people were treated on scene for minor injuries.

Thiel says the scene was placed under control around 12:30 p.m.

Thiel lauded the passengers and crew for how they responded during the incident.

“It is our understanding that passengers onboard the aircraft, in addition to the flight crew and the cabin crew, did some pretty amazing things under very difficult circumstances,” said Thiel.

Southwest Airlines says there were 143 passengers and five crewmembers on board the flight.

“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,” the airline said in a statement.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly commended the flight crew for their “swift action” and thanked first responders and employees at the scene for helping the passengers and crew.

Boeing is also assisting in the investigation.

Marty Martinez, a passenger on the plane, posted a Facebook Live during the emergency landing.

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“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 an interview with CBSN, Martinez said an engine exploded and broke a window.

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

Martinez says a woman was critically injured.

“There was blood everywhere,” Martinez explained.

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Martinez told CBSN that he thought it was his last few minutes alive when the plane was free-falling.

“We were probably going down for 10 or 15 minutes. And, of course, everyone is freaking out, everyone is crying. It was the scariest experience,” said Martinez.

The airport says passengers should expect delays following the emergency landing. The FAA initially issued a ground stop but it has since been lifted.

Comments (44)
  1. I remember always telling my wife we’ll not be getting seats next to the engines.

  2. This is not the first time SWA has had an engine failure that looked like this.
    The last time was in 2016 and it was found that metal fatigue was the cause. Looks like a repeat on the same type of plane as well.

  3. 12 people per hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year die from adverse drug reaction … that’s 106,000 people per year … I think I’ll take a window seat …

  4. pfbonney says:

    I still remember the crash of United Airlines Flight 232, which was a DC-10 and crash-landed at Sioux City, Iowa on July 19, 1989 after suffering catastrophic failure of its tail-mounted engine, which led to the loss of many flight controls. I remember the cause of the turbine blade (or, disk, actually) exploding due to the metal being poured at too cold of a temperature. But I just check with Wikipedia, and it says that the cause of the fracture and resulting explosion was due to impurities in the metal.

    In any case, that was a GE engine.


    “Uncontained engine failure due to faulty titanium alloy, leading to loss of hydraulics and flight controls” – Wikipedia

  5. Mike Broach says:

    Thank GOD for well trained Pilot and CO-Pilot and the Flight Attendants.

  6. What did that woman know about the Clintons and when was she scheduled to testify?

    1. Come on – not sure anyone else heard it but I was in Dulles VA today and a plane had an emergency landing – obviously this is the Russians and not our normal Clinton hit-job.

  7. Stehr Va says:

    My prayers to the family who has lost a loved one. This is just another reason to add to my list of reason to not fly. Honestly planes are getting older and older and they are not replaced very often and I for one am not willing to risk getting on one.

    1. Herb Rapoza says:

      LOL, afraid ti fly? Pull up and see just how many airplanes are in the air at any one time. How many times do any of them experience problems? Flying is much safer than driving.

  8. Joe Smith says:

    From someone who travels a lot for work, may God rest the soul of the decesased and look
    over the family. And it appears to be miraculous work on the part of the crew and passengers that
    there was only one death. Miraculous!

  9. Vito Spago says:

    10-15 minutes of dive was on purpose to lower the plane to where folks could breathe without the masks.

  10. My heart goes out to the family of the female victim. I just can’t imagine what they must be going through.

  11. jbrickley says:

    Not free fall, pilots would have went to oxygen masks and would have to dive to 10,000 feet as quickly and safely as possible. It would be a steep decline, other articles say 3,000 feet per second. They needed to reduce altitude by 25,000 feet so people can breathe as 10,000 feet is the maximum altitude without a pressurized cabin. The poor passenger who almost was sucked out the window was cut very badly by the glass and very likely had internal bleeding and lost too much blood. No doubt there will be a big investigation over the engine explosion. It certainly wasn’t a bird strike at 35,000 feet. One fan blade coming loose would do it. Maintenance schedule will be reviewed. Parts of engine will be found. Hope it was a GE Engine and not a Pratt & Whitney, long family history of Pratt & Whitney employment.

    1. jbrickley says:

      Assuming the critically injured passenger was the one who didn’t make it. Suppose it could have been another passenger having a heart attack. That would scare anyone even experienced pilots.

  12. The plane was not in “free fall.” It still had one functioning engine and made a controlled landing. Prior comment was correct – flight crew was rapidly descending deliberately due to depressurization. This one passenger is making the crew sound disorganized but the reality is that the pilots and flight attendants did an excellent job, as did some passengers who rendered what medical assistance they could in flight. Horrible tragedy and everyone is rushing to blame someone, but it should not be the flight or cabin crew of this plane.

  13. Seems to me the pilots and crew were heroic in their effort. Engine explosion sending shrapnel out clearly caused the window to break and loss of cabin pressure. Immediate dive by pilots and diversion east to Philly. Horrific that a woman lost her life. Kudos to SWA crew AND other passengers for preventing more loss of life. Southwest has one of the best safety records of the major carriers. I am sure lessons will be learned from this.

  14. Jim Wolfson says:

    So the emergency systems and the flight crew did their jobs properly.
    That’s the story.

  15. Gene Rey says:

    Pfft; couple rolls of duct tape & some plexiglass and it’s ready to fly again.

    1. Fine. YOU get the window seat. Maybe they’ll issue you some extra duct tape, just in case.

  16. John Freas says:

    Marty wasn’t watching when the cabin crew did the passenger briefing. The oxygen mask goes over your nose and mouth. If you put it over your mouth and breath through your nose you don’t get any oxygen.

  17. glad they are OK, the ‘free fall’ was probably the pilot getting down to 10,000 feet so the people can breathe, although the article does not really say how high they were in the first place.

  18. Perhaps the “sponsored content” entitled “Why You Should ‘Embrace the Suck'” shouldn’t be featured after an article about a woman being pulled halfway out of a plane during flight.

    1. Very observant Drift.. Artificial Intelligence not to intelligent is it? that algorithm needs a line of code for common sense.

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