Southwest Victim Was Wells Fargo VP


Authorities confirmed new details Wednesday concerning a domestic Southwest Airlines flight in which an engine explosion left one passenger dead and seven others injured. The harrowing ordeal ended with an emergency landing a Philadelphia International Airport.

A 43-year-old wife and mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico has been identified as the victim killed when metal from the engine cracked her window and partially pulled her out of the 737 airliner.

Jennifer Riordan had spent the past decade in an executive position at Wells Fargo, according to Business Insider. As vice president of community relations, she reportedly led operations related to internal communications and community outreach.

After graduating from the University of New Mexico, she held a position at Citigroup similar to the role she would later serve at Wells Fargo. Information available from online profiles indicates she was also an assistant principal at her children’s school.

Tammie Jo Shults, the pilot of Flight 1380 being praised for her “nerves of steel,” alluded to Riordan’s injuries in her call to air traffic control.

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After telling ground crews that she was flying with “part of the aircraft missing” and requesting permission to “slow down a bit,” the former Navy pilot calmly expressed the human toll of the midair crisis.

“Can you have the medical meet us there on the runway as well,” she said. “We have got … injured passengers.”

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Shults confirmed the plane was not on fire, but that “part of it is missing.”

Relaying information from the chaotic cabin, she described the harrowing ordeal by indicating that “someone went out” of the jet.

“I’m sorry?” said the air traffic controller in response. “You said there is a hole and someone went out?”

Though fellow passengers were able to pull Riordan back in, officials believe she had already been killed from the combined trauma of the shrapnel created by the explosion and being pulled through the window when the cabin depressurized.

In a statement shortly after the fatal incident, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly offered condolences to those impacted and gratitude to the crews in the air and on the ground who prevented further tragedy.

“On behalf of the Southwest family, I want to extend my deepest sympathies for the family and the loved ones of our deceased customer,” he said in a video message. “They are our immediate and primary concern and we will do all that we can to support them during this difficult time.”

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Along with CFM International, which manufactured the engine, Southwest expressed its commitment to work with the National Transportation Safety Board as it conducts an investigation into the circumstances of the failure.

Riordan’s death marked the first accidental fatality aboard a domestic flight since 2009 and the first ever to involve Southwest.

“I’m immensely grateful there are no other reports of injuries but truly this is a tragic loss,” Kelly said. “Please join us in offering thoughts and prayers and support to all of those affected by today’s tragedy.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
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