The heartbroken family of Vermont-native Jennifer Riordan pays tribute to those who rescued her body as she was sucked out the plane’s window.
The retired nurse, ranch hand, and firefighter who tried to save the life of a woman sucked out of a plane window on Tuesday have spoken for the first time of the rush to pull Jennifer Riordan, a 43-year-old mother of two, back inside when the top half of her body was dragged out of a shattered window.
The grieving and stunned family of the Vermont native has also thanked the passengers for their actions, stating that they were “grateful for the closure” that came with the recovery of her body.
“Thank you. Thank you that she didn’t go flying out the window and we wouldn’t have her. She was much more than a statistic,” said Marianne Riordan, the Wells Fargo executive’s sister-in-law.
“Those people ... I’m sorry that they’ll probably have images in their head that they’ll never forget but Jennifer would be the first to say your job is to keep living and live well.
“Obviously, God needed her,” she added. “Hopefully, she’s somebody’s guardian angel now.”
Retired nurse Peggy Phillips, firefighter Andrew Needham, and ranch hand Tim McGinty are credited with abandoning their own oxygen masks to aid Riordan when the freak accident occurred, pulling her back into the plane and administering CPR.
“The window had broken and the suction, the negative pressure, had pulled her outside the plane partially,” Phillips told ABC.
“These two wonderful men the EMT and a passenger managed to get her back inside the plane and we lay her down and we started CPR.”
Riordan had been traveling on a Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday when the accident occurred. It is believed that a fan blade snapped off the engine, causing it to explode and sending shrapnel into the side of the plane that smashed Riordan’s window and created a hole in the plane.
Seven others were in injured in the incident but pilot Tammie Jo Shults succeeded in calmly landing the plane, its 144 stricken passengers, and five crew members in Philadelphia.
“The fact that she got it on the ground, that more lives were not lost ... I wish we could turn back time and this didn’t happen,” Marianne Riordan said.
“We’re just grateful to have closure.”
While the three passengers who rushed to save Riordan did not go into graphic detail on her injuries, Phillips said that the woman suffered “significant head trauma, facial trauma.”
Passengers praise "amazing," "incredible," Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 pilot Tammie Jo Shults after she safely lands their plane following mid-air engine failure. Learn more about her here: https://t.co/Dz6qCMtZZ8 #breaking pic.twitter.com/OfrKMTEJfD— Tom Cleary (@tomwcleary) April 17, 2018
“If you can possibly imagine going through the window of an airplane at about 600 mph, and hitting either the fuselage or the wing with your body, with your face … I can probably tell you that there was significant trauma to the body,” the nurse added.