Michael Riordan speaking out for the first time about his wife’s death in an emotional interview
The husband of the Southwest Airlines passenger sucked out of a plane window mid-flight has spoken for the first time of the heartbreaking moment he learned she was dead.
Bank executive Jennifer Riordan, 43, was fatally injured when one of the plane’s twin engines exploded at 32,000 feet, forcing the pilot to land in Philadelphia.
The impact showered the jet in debris and shattered the window next to her, sucking her partway through it. Passengers rushed to help but it was too late.
Mrs Riordan, a mother of two, was the only fatal victim of the 149 people on board the flight to Chicago.
Now her husband Michael has told of the devastating phone call he received telling him his wife was dead in an emotional interview with CBS News.
Michael and Jennifer Riordan with their two young children. They will remember her as ‘kind, loving, caring and sharing’, he said
‘I just dropped the phone,’ he said, describing the moment a doctor from the hospital she was taken to in Philadelphia delivered the life-changing news.
Bank executive Jennifer Riordan who was sucked out of a window on a Southwest Airlines plane on her way to Chicago
‘I immediately switched to the second and third phone calls that I had to make – the worst ones of my life – to her father and her mother and then trying to figure out how to tell the kids that their mom wasn’t coming home,’ he said.
‘One of the most comforting things through all this is she called me that morning.
‘She just called to check in on the day, how, what we were going to do that night when she got home and we ended with “I love you, safe travels”.’
Asked what he would tell her now if he could, he said: ‘I love you. I have no idea how I can do this without her but because of her I know I can.
‘It’s the love affair that will never end and it won’t. No one can take her from my heart and no one can take her from our family.’
The Row 14 seat which Mrs Riordan was sitting in when she was sucked through the window at 32,000 feet
A harrowing image taken before the plane made its emergency landing in Philadelphia shows one of the twin engines after it exploded
Mr Riordan said he knows there will be dark days ahead as he and their two children, 12-year-old Averie and 10-year-old Josh, continue to grieve.
Describing how their children will remember their mother, he said: ‘Kind, loving, caring and sharing – 100 per cent.
‘When I have those four little eyes look at me thinking how we’re going to get through, that’s going to make me a better dad and a better husband and a better person.’
Mrs Riordan’s husband Michael speaks at her memorial service in Albuquerque, New Mexico
The shocking state of the exploded twin engine after the plane had made an emergency landing in Philadelphia