During a time of utter panic and chaos, passengers and crew aboard a Southwest Airlines flight banded together in an attempt to save an injured passenger when the plane’s engine exploded midair. Among them was retired nurse Peggy Phillips who did “what any registered nurse would do,” she told ABC News’ Good Morning America.
Shortly after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, passengers heard a terrifying explosion that caused the aircraft to shake violently. Phillips saw commotion coming from several rows behind her. When she heard a person call out for someone trained in CPR, she immediately sprang into action.
The woman in trouble was the 43-year-old mother of two Jennifer Riordan. The window she sat next to was broken by debris from the engine explosion, causing her to be partially sucked out of the plane. Passengers scrambled and managed to pull her back in. Phillips, along with an emergency medical technician onboard laid Riordan on the ground and began administering CPR.
For 20 grueling minutes, and even during the aircraft’s emergency landing in Philadelphia, Phillips and the EMT continued to perform CPR. Sadly, their efforts were of no avail. Riordan was later pronounced dead in the hospital. A spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said the cause of death was blunt impact trauma to the head, neck, and torso.
Although Southwest had not yet confirmed exactly how Riordan died, Phillips put into perspective what she believes happened. “If you can possibly imagine going through the window of an airplane at about 600 mph 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,” she said in a WFAA-TV interview.
The incident is continuing to be investigated. The airline crew along with passengers are being commended for their quick actions and efforts.
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