Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two and an executive at Wells Fargo in New Mexico, died yesterday when a Southwest Airlines jet engine failed in flight and damaged the plane and blew out a window. The Albuquerque woman was a prominent community member and had ties to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, University of New Mexico and the local city government.
Riordan oversaw volunteer programs in New Mexico for the last decade and was the spokesperson for Wells Fargo’s hot air balloons.
Wells Fargo issued a statement about Riordan, saying she was “loved and respected”:
“The Wells Fargo family is saddened to learn of the death of our friend and colleague Jennifer Riordan – a Community Relations leader in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was a well-known leader who was loved and respected. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends. Out of respect for the family and their privacy, we’ve nothing more to share at this time.”
A witness on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, with 149 people aboard, said he saw a window blow out on aisle 17 and that a woman was critically injured.
“There was blood everywhere,” Marty Martinez said. “There were people on the plane rushed to help the injured woman while a passenger was trying to plug the hole in the window with no success.”
Tuesday’s airline fatality was the first one in the U.S. since 2009, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
At a press conference last night, NTSB’s chairman Robert Sumwalt said he’s “very concerned” about metal fatigue in the jet engine that failed and NTSB will focus on a missing engine fan blade. He also mentioned that somebody had found a part from the jet 70 miles north of Philadelphia International Airport.
Southwest CEO Cary C. Kelly said the airline will begin enhanced inspection procedures of its fleet very soon. The flight was powered by CFM engines.