The passenger seated nearby a woman nearly sucked out the window of a Southwest plane latched onto her belt loops in a desperate attempt to pull her back inside the aircraft.
“And the little girl next to me also tried to pull with me, and we tried to pull her back in, but we couldn’t,” passenger Hollie Mackey told KTVQ.
“We were not strong enough. All we could do was stay calm, because if we didn’t then there would be even more panic on the plane."
Federal investigators said one of the engine’s fan blades broke off shortly after the Dallas-bound plane took off from LaGuardia, shattering the window next to Jennifer Riordan.
Mackey was sitting in row 14, a girl seated between her and Riordan, when the chaos unfolded.
More on the flight tragedy:
“There was a big boom, and we were all very confused for a second. Just at the same time, there was a boom and cold air and this sucking sound,” Mackey recalled.
“In that moment, we just made some pretty tough decisions. It was really excellent teamwork between all of them to try to get Jennifer back in safe and keep everybody else safe at the same time.”
Despite their efforts, Riordan — a mother of two and vice president of community relations at a New Mexico Wells Fargo Bank — died from the injuries she suffered amid the plane engine’s failure.
No one else was injured in the incident and pilot Tammy Jo Shultz has been lauded as a hero for successfully landing the plane in Philadelphia, despite it only having one working engine.