Plane victim’s husband speaks
A WEEK after a freak engine explosion on a Southwest Airlines flight caused the death of mum-of-two Jennifer Riordan, her devastated husband has spoken about his heartbreak.
Michael Riordan met his wife in a shopping mall 29 years ago when they were both teenagers.
Last week, on April 17, Michael's life would change forever after his wife, and the mother of his two children was partially sucked out the window of a Southwest Airlines jet.
Speaking to ABC News in his home state of New Mexico, Michael said he originally didn't believe his wife could be that injured.
"The chaplain at the hospital called and said, 'We need to speak with Mike Riordan who is married to Jennifer. Are you married to Jennifer Riordan?'" Michael said.
"I said, 'Yes, but she wasn't going through Philadelphia. She was planning on going to Chicago so I don't think you -' just absolute denial. I'm still in denial.
"He said 'I need to have a doctor talk to you'."
After speaking to the chaplain at the Philadelphia hospital, Michael jumped on the internet and had a quick look at news articles reporting on the engine explosion.
"I saw one passenger was brought to the hospital, like, 'OK, but the whole plane didn't crash,'" he said.
"I was like, 'She can't be injured that bad she's just in a hospital, but I can get out there and I can hold her hand and tell her I love her, it just can't be that bad.'"
But two minutes after reading the article, Michael received a call from the doctor.
"We're sorry, we tried everything we could but she didn't make it," the doctor told him.
Michael was then faced with the impossible task of telling their two young children that their mum had died.
"I immediately thought of the kids and how do you tell your kids their mum was gone," he said.
Jennifer had been planning to meet her kids and husband at their son's baseball game on Tuesday night after she flew in from New York.
Instead, Michael drove to their school, took them to a chapel and told them the tragic news.
"I just held their little hands and took a knee and said, 'Mummy's not going to come home guys,'" he said.
Michael said the first time he's felt peace since his wife's death was at her funeral on the weekend.
The father-of-two is staying away from reports about what Southwest Airlines plans to do, instead choosing to focus on his two young children.
In a press conference immediately after the incident, Southwest Airlines chief executive officer Gary Kelly said Jennifer's death was a "tragic loss".
"This is a sad day, and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased customer," he said.
Jennifer was partially dragged out the window of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 after shrapnel from an exploded engine smashed the glass.
She had been wearing her seat belt at the time.
Firefighter Andrew Needum and Tim McGinty, a ranch hand who was travelling with his wife, helped pull Jennifer back inside the plane.
Retired nurse Peggy Phillips was one of the passengers who gave Jennifer CPR in an attempt to save her life.
"The window had broken and the suction, the negative pressure, had pulled her outside the plane partially," Ms Phillips said.
"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."
Mr McGinty told the TV network Fox 4 what happened.
"The engine went out and we had a lady go out the window, and we couldn't pull her in," he said. "A guy helped, we got her pulled in. They tried to resuscitate her."