The woman who died after a Southwest Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport when its engine exploded Tuesday has been identified as Jennifer Riordan, a mother and bank vice president of community relations from New Mexico.
Here’s what we know about Riordan:
- She is a mother to two children and has been married to her husband, Michael, for more than 20 years, according to Mission: Graduate, an initiative of the United Way of Central New Mexico. Riordan was involved in a council that recommended strategies for the initiative, which sought to give children equal opportunities to succeed in school.
- Her family released a brief statement Tuesday evening, calling her “the bedrock of our family.”
— Erica Zucco 🇺🇸 (@ericazucco) April 17, 2018
- Riordan was employed as vice president of community relations at a Wells Fargo in Albuquerque, N.M. “She was a well-known leader who was loved and respected,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.
- Riordan’s Twitter account shows she tweeted on Monday about her stay at a hotel in New York (the Southwest flight originated from LaGuardia). She described herself in her bio as: “@wellsfargo proud Team Member. Wife, mom of two, baseball fan, wine and coffee lover, passionate about my community.”
— Jennifer L. Riordan (@jrior89) April 17, 2018
- Riordan graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations.
- An email sent to parents at Annunciation Catholic School, which Riordan’s two children attend, confirmed Riordan had died in an airline incident, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
- A retired nurse on the flight who administered CPR to Riordan told reporters that the explosion had broken a window and left Riordan partially hanging out before two passengers pulled her back in. “If you can possibly imagine going through the window of an airplane at about 600 miles an hour and hitting either the fuselage or the wing with your body — with your face — then I think I can probably tell you there was significant trauma,” the nurse, Peggy Phillips, said. Riordan was rushed to an area hospital, where she died Tuesday afternoon.
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Friends and coworkers called Riordan a tireless worker with deep roots in the community.
“Jennifer cheerfully championed so many causes in our region and was a real force for good,” the United Way of Central New Mexico said in a statement. “We have so many wonderful memories of Jennifer’s willingness to connect people to each other and our community to a better path.”
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, who knew Riordan, said he was “greatly saddened.”
New Mexico is greatly saddened by Jennifer Riordan's tragic death. She was a dear friend & I was honored to work with her on financial literacy issues for over a decade. Jennifer was exceptionally active in working to improve our community and I express our sincerest condolences.
— Hector Balderas (@HectorBalderas) April 18, 2018
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller shared his condolences.
— Mayor Tim Keller (@MayorKeller) April 18, 2018
So did Alex Hernandez, a senior at the University of New Mexico who met Riordan nearly four years ago through a scholarship program that Wells Fargo sponsored. It paired college students with mentors in the banking field.
Hernandez, 21, said in a phone interview that Riordan offered career advice and always made sure he had everything he needed.
“She was just so committed to helping others,” Hernandez said.
I can't believe this… So sad to hear of this news. Jennifer was an extraordinary woman who helped me immensely in my college career through the Wells Fargo Presidential Scholar Program. My condolences to her family and friends. https://t.co/SiEIB6boRs
— Bambino (@Alex_796) April 17, 2018