The husband of the woman killed when a Southwest Airlines engine blew up shortly after takeoff last week says he hasn’t fully processed the accident.
“I have not been angry yet,” Michael Riordan said in an interview with NBC News’ “Today.” “I’m sure it’s coming.”
But he’s not ready to discuss the situation that led to the death of his wife, Jennifer Riordan, who was nearly sucked out of Flight 1380 when the blown engine ripped a hole in the fuselage.
“I’m keeping my love for her in my heart and I’m staying strong for my children, and I’m soaking in their looks to me,” he said.
The couple spoke just before Jennifer left New York City to venture home to Albuquerque.
Riordan, who first met his wife as a teenager in Vermont, was able to say “I love you” one more time before she got on the ill-fated flight.
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“Our last conversation was that,” he told the network. “She called just to say, ‘I’m going to the airport,’ and we said, ‘love you, safe travels.’”
Within 20 minutes of leaving LaGuardia Airport, however, the plane’s left engine blew — busting a hole in the plane.
Her upper body was pulled out and two passengers struggled to pull her back in.
Fellow travelers spent 20 minutes performing CPR on Jennifer — even after the plane safely touched down in Philadelphia.
Riordan, speaking with several networks this week, recalled being confused when a hospital chaplain called from Philadelphia to say a doctor would soon be in touch.
“Then the doctor called and said, ‘I'm sorry, Michael, but we've done everything we can but we couldn't save her,’ and I just dropped the phone,” he said in an interview with CBS News.
Jennifer was the first U.S. passenger fatality since 2009.
Riordan let her parents know, then pondered how he’d break the news to 12-year-old daughter Averie and 10-year-old son Josh.
“I held their hands. I took a knee,” a choked-up Riordan said in an ABC News interview that aired Wednesday. “I said, mommy's not going to come home, guys.”
A thousand people came to a memorial service for her in Albuquerque, during which New Mexico’s lieutenant governor gave Riordan a flag that flew half-staff over the capital after his wife’s death.
Riordan said he’s gotten the names of everyone who helped his wife.
“At some point, I really need to reach out to them and just (let them) know that as a family we’re just thankful for them being there with her,” he said.
“To lose your wife and partner for 29 years and the mother of your children is an impossible task.”