NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBSNews/AP) — A Southwest Airlines jet blew an engine at 32,000 feet and was hit by shrapnel that smashed a window, setting off a desperate scramble by passengers to save a woman from getting sucked out. She later died, and seven others were injured.

Passengers dragged the woman back in as the sudden decompression of the cabin pulled her part way through the opening, but she was gravely injured. 

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The pilot, identified as Tammie Jo Shults, took the twin-engine Boeing 737 bound from New York to Dallas with 149 people aboard into a rapid descent and made an emergency landing in Philadelphia as passengers using oxygen masks that dropped from the ceiling said their prayers and braced for impact.

“I just remember holding my husband’s hand, and we just prayed and prayed and prayed,” said passenger Amanda Bourman, of New York. “And the thoughts that were going through my head of course were about my daughters, just wanting to see them again and give them a big hug so they wouldn’t grow up without parents.”

Passenger Marty Martinez joined CBSN on the phone from the plane, saying there was “blood everywhere.”

“I had WiFi, and I knew I couldn’t get any sort of text messages through, so I jumped on Facebook Live,” he said. “I thought I was cataloging the last moments of my existence the whole way … It was absolutely terrifying.”

Martinez said it was difficult to breathe as smoke poured into the plane.

“It was the most terrifying experience,” he said. “I mean, to think that as I’m going down and people are jumping in my live feed and I’m like ‘the plane’s going down’ and I’m just thinking that at any moment now my internet could cut out and that would be that’s it.”

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to Philadelphia. Pictures show investigators on scene examining damage to the engine. Shrapnel busted the fuselage and blew out a window.

One passenger, Jennifer Riordan from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was killed. She was married with two children and a longtime employee of Wells Fargo visiting New York City.

Passenger Kathy Farnan says she could hear the commotion going on behind her.

“She was way in back, cut in the face, flying glas from part of the engine hit glass and she got hit in the face and then I was told she was half out of the plane and people grabbed her back, ya know, from the pull,” she told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

Over air traffic control, the pilot asked for medical help to board the plane.

Riordan was the first passenger killed in an accident involving a U.S. airline since 2009. The seven other victims suffered minor injuries.

Shults is being hailed as a hero for landing safely. Passengers commended her for her cool-headed handling of the emergency. She walked through the aisle and talked with passengers to make sure they were OK after the plane touched down.

“She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her,” said Alfred Tumlinson, of Corpus Christi, Texas. “I’m going to send her a Christmas card, I’m going to tell you that, with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.” 

Tracking data from showed Flight 1380 was heading west over Pennsylvania at about 32,200 feet (10 km) and traveling 500 mph (800 kph) when it abruptly turned toward Philadelphia.

Bourman said she was asleep near the back when she heard a loud noise and oxygen masks dropped.

“Everybody was crying and upset,” she said. “You had a few passengers that were very strong, and they kept yelling to people, you know, ‘It’s OK! We’re going to do this!'”

In a recording of conversations between the cockpit and air traffic controllers, an unidentified crew member reported that there was a hole in the plane and “someone went out.” 

Tumlinson said a man in a cowboy hat rushed forward a few rows “to grab that lady to pull her back in. She was out of the plane. He couldn’t do it by himself, so another gentleman came over and helped to get her back in the plane, and they got her.”

Another passenger, Eric Zilbert, an administrator with the California Education Department, said: “From her waist above, she was outside of the plane.”

Passengers struggled to somehow plug the hole while giving the badly injured woman CPR.

Passengers did “some pretty amazing things under some pretty difficult circumstances,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said. 

As the plane came in for a landing, everyone started yelling to brace for impact, then clapped after the aircraft touched down safely, Bourman said.

“We were very lucky to have such a skilled pilot and crew to see us through it,” Zilbert said. “The plane was steady as a rock after it happened. I didn’t have any fearing that it was out of control.”

The last time a passenger died in an accident on a U.S. airliner was 2009 when 49 people on board and one on the ground were killed when a Continental Express plane crashed on a house near Buffalo, New York.

Southwest has about 700 planes, all of them 737s, including more than 500 737-700s like the one in Tuesday’s accident. It is the world’s largest operator of the 737. The 737 is the best-selling jetliner in the world and has a good safety record. 

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in Dallas that there were no problems with the plane or its engine when it was inspected Sunday.

The jet’s CFM56-7B engines were made by CFM International, jointly owned by General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines of France. CFM said in a statement that the CFM56-7B has had “an outstanding safety and reliability record” since its debut in 1997, powering more than 6,700 aircraft worldwide.

Last year, the engine maker and the Federal Aviation Administration instructed airlines to make ultrasonic inspections of the fan blades of engines like those on the Southwest jet. The FAA said the move was prompted by a report of a fan blade failing and hurling debris. But it was unclear whether the particular engine that failed on Tuesday was covered by the directives.

“There’s a ring around the engine that’s meant to contain the engine pieces when this happens,” said John Goglia, a former NTSB member. “In this case it didn’t. That’s going to be a big focal point for the NTSB — why didn’t (the ring) do its job?”

In 2016, a Southwest Boeing 737-700 blew an engine as it flew from New Orleans to Orlando, Florida, and shrapnel tore a 5-by-16-inch hole just above the wing. The plane landed safely. The NTSB said a fan blade had broken off, apparently because of metal fatigue. Investigators say they’ve also found evidence of metal fatigue on the plane where the engine malfunctioned on Tuesday.

Part of the engine from flight 1380 was found on the ground in Berks County, Pennsylvania — roughly 65 miles from the airport. Officials are helping passengers make connected flights so they can hopefully get back to their loved ones. Meanwhile, officials will be looking into when the plane and its engines were last inspected.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (16)
  1. Arfy Warfy says:

    Two comments: 1) This guy is worried about the internet connection going down while he thinks the plane is crashing…” I’m just thinking that at any moment now my internet could cut out”. This is insanity. 2) I never ever see ‘FOD walks’ at the airports… do they even occur?

  2. Next time you are sitting in a plane, on the tarmac, waiting for your flight departure, look outside on the ground: you just might see a various assortment of debris that is deadly to the impeller portion of the compressor section. When doing a daily inspection we ALWAYS went down the intake to look for chips on the turban blades In the Navy we were well aware of this and had a FOD (foreign object damage) walkdown before flight ops on board ship, looking for anything that might be engested by the enormous vacuum created by the engine. JUST SAYING.

  3. Something wrong with this story? Of all people to die, a Wells Fargo exec??? And where is all the blood and gore reported? Look at the photos, not a drop of blood anywhere???? False Flag??? Just questions.

    1. Cian Lang says:

      False flag? You’d better believe it! In fact, everything you see in the news is part of a giant conspiracy to dupe you. Everyone, yes everyone, is in on it except YOU! You are the only real person and everyone else is a cyborg from the planet Trog! Even me. I’m only letting you in on all this because one of my chips has malfunctioned. No it didn’t! Fooled you again!

  4. Mike Mulvey says:

    All the pictures that I’ve seen of the engine show the front intake fan intact – It looks like the cowl disintegrated – the NTSB report is going to be very interesting.

  5. I flew in the Navy and I learned one thing – anytime you’re seated in an airplane and the engines are running, FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT!

  6. Pilot did her job, as trained. Kudos to her!

    For all of you “journalists” out there, please do not use the word “shrapnel” when you mean to express that fragments of something that happen to have intersected with a human, causing death or injury; in this event fragments of glass, metal, or other substances.

    Shrapnel is a component of an anti-personnel projectile fired from a 19th century cannon. It consists of small to large spherical objects (balls) usually contained in a canister when loaded, hence the name “canister shot” or simply “canister.” Invented by Lieutenant General Henry Shrapnel, British Army.

  7. This type of emergency is repeated hundreds of times daily in all commercial and military flight simulators. Commercial and military aviators train for the worst case scenario so that when it does happen, the training procedures take over and minimize the natural reaction to fear. Here we have an emergency well handled and a job well done. Too bad our medical establishment doesn’t have a safety record to match that of the aviation community. How many patients die each year due to medical “mistakes”? I think I’d rather be on an aircraft knowing it was going to lose one engine than go to the hospital for a surgical procedure…LOL

  8. The max speed of this AC is 583. I believe if there was a headwind of 83 or more MPH then the engine may have been beyond max velocity. Could this be the cause of level flight engine failure? [prior USAF F-15 mechanic]

    See where power required crosses power available in the Region of Reversed Command

    1. Taylor – An aircraft moving at an indicated max airspeed Vo of 583kts into an 83kt headwind would have a ground speed of 500kts. There is be no need to assume the pilot was flying this aircraft at other than cruise which is typically less than maximum. The fan blade failure will be determined to most likely be metal fatigue and not pilot error…

  9. Dan Thomas says:

    Why is the FAA concerned about phone usage during flights? It seems that this concern is widely ignored every time a plane is in trouble.

  10. Zak Watson says:

    People say there is a RACE problem. People say this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY and ONLY into White countries.

    People say the only solution to the RACE problem is if ALL and ONLY White countries “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-Whites.

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against White people, Anti-Whites agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White.

  11. Tq Norris says:

    Southwest Airlines has outsourced most of its heavy maintenance to El Salvador, in order to save $$$…… Just something to consider.

  12. Jason Ledd says:

    Just so you all know, when an engine fails, your plane can still fly and land safely with one engine. No need to stop flying because of this type of scenario.

    1. Lenny Leo says:

      I think a lady sticking out the window could be considered an EXCEPTION in this case, don’t you think?

  13. Wow, an event happening during level flight is extremely rare, glad they made it safe, praying for family of the one who did not. Traumatizing to be on that plane to say the least, a lot of hero’s on there, never know how some will react, God Bless

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