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