According to NBC Philadelphia, a passenger was "partially sucked out" of the cabin on flight 1380 when a piece of the plane's engine broke a window, causing the aircraft to depressurize. The victim was reportedly rushed to a Philadelphia hospital upon landing. Another passenger reportedly had a heart attack, and a third struck by shrapnel.
The passenger killed, Jennifer Riordan, was a mother of two and a Wells Fargo bank executive from New Mexico. The New Mexico Broadcasters Association stated that Riordan was a University of New Mexico graduate and a former board member.
Her death was shared by the assistant principal of the Albuquerque Catholic School where Riordan's two children are students.
In an email to parents on Tuesday, Assistant Principal Amy McCarty wrote that "the family needs all the prayers we can offer," AP reported. The cause of Riordan's death has not been revealed.
— Michael Boren (@borenmc) April 17, 2018
NTSB Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt announced Tuesday that the engine that broke down will be thoroughly examined.
The flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport, where it made an emergency landing around 11:30 a.m. local time Tuesday. The plane's intended destination was Dallas' Love Field.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 17, 2018
There were 143 passengers and five crew on the plane when it made the sudden landing. Marty Martinez, a passenger on the flight, posted a live Facebook video of himself "recording his last moments."
"Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!!" Martinez captioned his video.
He told CBS News that there was "blood everywhere" on the aircraft.
— Debbie Malpass (@jusdebbie) April 17, 2018
"We were probably going down for 10 to 15 minutes," Martinez told NBC News. "And of course everyone is freaking out, everyone is crying. It was the scariest experience."
— Dave Abspoel (@DABNOS) April 17, 2018
In a Tuesday statement, Southwest said, "We are in the process of gathering more information… Safety is always our top priority at Southwest Airlines and we are working diligently to support our customers and crews at the time."
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) April 17, 2018
Philadelphia International Airport tweeted Tuesday that, "Flight from LGA [LaGuardia] to Dallas Love Field landed safely at PHL and passengers are being brought into the terminal. Flights are departing and arriving but passengers should expect delays. Check flight status with your airline."
Photos and video captured by passengers from inside the cabin and posted on social networks showed a significant plane damage, with part of the covering from its left engine ripped off and a window destroyed.
According to the US Aviation Safety Network, no people died in crashes of commercial jets on US soil in 2017, for the fourth year in a row.
A late 2017 report by the Federal Aviation Administration found that Southwest Airlines' suffered from a degraded management culture when it came to maintenance, and that maintenance staff, rather than being supported in their jobs, were coerced toward positive assessments of planes and infrastructure. The FAA has also warned that corrosion is a problem on Southwest aircraft.
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly responded to the death in a video statement later Tuesday afternoon, calling it a "tragic loss" and saying "This is a sad day, and on behalf of the entire Southwest family, I want to extend my deepest sympathies for the family and the loved ones of our deceased customer." He pledged Southwest's support to the victim's friends and family, and said the company was cooperating fully with the NTSB in investigating the engine failure.
He also commended the flight crew for their response to the emergency, as well as the team on the ground in Philadelphia. Kelly also told media that Tuesday's incident was the first one in the airline's 51-year history. There were no issues with the aircraft's engines, which were inspected on Sunday. Kelly has reached out to the victim's family but was unable to reach them.