An engine failure yesterday aboard Southwest flight 1380 from LaGuardia to Dallas caused an explosion that led to the death of a passenger who was partially sucked out the window in mid-flight.
Shortly after reaching cruising altitude at 32,000 feet, a fractured fan blade in the widely-used CFM56-7B engine snapped off, causing the engine to explode and striking the plane’s fuselage with shrapnel. A fragment shattered the window next to passenger Jennifer Riordan, depressuring the cabin and sucking her head and torso out the broken window, despite the fact she was wearing her seatbelt.
Nearby passengers struggled to pull her back inside as the plane rapidly descended at over 3,000 feet per minute, but she had lost a considerable amount of blood and passed out due to a combination of asphyxiation and shock. A passenger who is an RN and an EMT treated Riordan as best they could, but 43-year-old Riordan later died as a result of blunt trauma to her head, neck and torso.
Another passenger, Marty Martinez, purchased in-flight wifi so that he could go live on Facebook to say goodbye to his loved ones. Footage of the depressurized cabin is available from his Facebook livestream above.
Southwest Pilot Tammy Jo was able to safely make an emergency landing after diverting to Philadelphia, and landed the plane under the power of the remaining engine. An audio transcript of the communication between Jo and ATC ground can be heard below, as the former Navy pilot calmly acted on her training while explaining, “part of the aircraft is missing…No, it’s not on fire but part of it’s missing. They said there is a hole and someone went out.”