Grieving Family Honors Mother of 2 Who Died After Being Partially Sucked Out of Southwest Plane
Jennifer Riordan was partially sucked out of her airplane window when an engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight
Riordan—a 43-year-old mother of two and bank executive from Albuquerque, New Mexico—was fatally injured when she was partially sucked out of a window after an engine exploded during her flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Dallas.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Riordan’s family announced the founding of a memorial website, The Jennifer Riordan Memorial Trust, where people who are interested can support causes that were important to Riordan and help the family meet financial needs after the traumatic event.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support for our family and the love for Jennifer,” the statement, provided to PEOPLE, states. “Hearing stories of how she impacted everyone in so many meaningful ways has truly touched our hearts. To honor her legacy, an official memorial site has been created to fund causes that were near and dear to her heart.”
Riordan had to be pulled back in by a team of passengers—including Andrew Needum, a firefighter from Texas—and was given CPR by retired nurse Peggy Phillips for almost 20 minutes until the plane’s pilot was able to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. According to CBS News, Riordan was wearing her seatbelt during the time of the incident.
“They were fighting to get her back in. It was a struggle, it looked like it took a few people. There was quite a bit of blood,” a passenger on the flight, who chose to remained anonymous, told PEOPLE about the chaotic scene. “I saw a passenger pumping on her chest performing CPR and someone ran up to the front of the plane where they got a defibrillator.”
Riordan’s death was caused by blunt impact trauma to her head, neck and torso, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said on Wednesday.
The website also offers the option for visitors to send well-wishes to Riordan’s two young children, Averie and Joshua.
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“Their loss is the most profound,” a description on the website reads, “as they will not get the chance to know her in her full force of service and dedication as many children do as they grow and know their parents – seeing her as more than Mommy and in the full grace of her being and selfless service.”
For those looking to make a monetary donation, they can send funds through the website or a via check directly to the trust. The website also asks visitors to honor Riordan by being kindhearted to each other—this, above all, will help to keep her legacy alive.
“Most importantly,” the website states, “we urge you to celebrate Jennifer, by being kind, loving, caring and sharing to your friends, family and community.”