Hundreds Mourn Jennifer Riordan, Killed When Southwest Airlines Engine Exploded

Hundreds turned out to mourn Jennifer Riordan, who died after Southwest jet engine exploded.
Jennifer Riordan's friends and family paid tribute to her in a memorial service. CBS

Hundreds gathered to mourn Jennifer Riordan, the New Mexico mother who died after she was nearly sucked out of a window when a Southwest Airlines jet blew an engine in mid-air and was forced to make an emergency landing.

"In life, she really brought everyone together and always had a smile on her face, always had something to say and with her passing, I think it's going to bring a ton of people together," Ivan Wiener told CBS affiliate KRQE-TV.

The 43-year-old community leader and mother of two was on her way home from a business trip when the jetliner's engine burst apart, sending debris and shrapnel through the window next to her seat. Other passengers scrambled to pull her back into the plane and administered CPR, but Riordan could not be saved. 

She was the only passenger who was severely wounded.

Sunday night, her husband, Michael, injected humor into the somber proceedings.

"Why's everybody so quiet? This is a celebration. Jennifer was 10 minutes late to our wedding, so I'm paying her back a little bit," he said. 

Michael asked members of the audience to stand if they had ever received an encouraging note from Jennifer, shared a glass of wine with her or had ever seen her cheering for their kids at sporting events. Nearly every one stood, the station reported.

"I think Jennifer, in all her faith, she followed the teachings of Christ. When He said let your life shine in such a way that people will see your good works and give praise to God," Jennifer's minister Bennett Voorhies said.

Friend Ivan Wiener said, "In life, she really brought everyone together and always had a smile on her face, always had something to say and with her passing, I think it's going to bring a ton of people together."

Riordan was vice president of community relations for Wells Fargo bank in New Mexico. She also supervised the firm's corporate giving program and volunteered several nonprofit groups.

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