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Andrew Needum, a passenger on board Southwest 1380, recounted his experience on board Tuesday’s flight during a live interview on Thursday. In the emotional interview, Needum described his experience performing CPR on Jennifer Riordan, the passenger who ultimately died from her injuries after partially being sucked through a broken window, as well pulling her back into the aircraft.
Needum, a member of the Celina City Fire Department in Celina, Texas, said he was traveling home with his wife, their two kids and his parents after a family vacation in New York City. The family of six was visiting family, as well as celebrating the 39th wedding anniversary of Needum’s parents.
“Hectic” was the way Needum described the morning of the flight, as the family traveled with two kids on an early morning flight. After getting to LaGuardia (LGA) and through TSA security, “it was a close call” making it to the gate for Flight 1380.
Needum described the flight’s takeoff as smooth. “Somewhere around 32,000 feet, [we] heard a loud pop,” Needum said. He said flight attendants were in the aisle, beginning to take drink orders when the sound of the engine exploding occured. Immediately after the pop, oxygen masks were deployed, Needum said.
The family were quick to securely put on their oxygen masks. However, Needum said he heard a commotion toward the rear of the aircraft, which is where Riordan was sitting.
Needum removed his oxygen mask, and with an approving look from his wife, headed toward Riordan’s seat to pull her back in the aircraft, as well as perform CPR.
Being a firefighter, Needum said he is trained for emergency situations. “That’s what it was,” he said.
Out of respect for Riordan’s family, Needum declined to give any further detail about what happened in the following moments.
Needum did describe the moments after the pop as relatively calm. Passengers were helping other passengers where needed, such as Needum’s wife who helped a solo female traveler put the oxygen mask on herself and her young child.
“I felt calm,” Needum said. “I knew Tammie Jo had it under control. I never really feared for my personal kids.”
Upon landing at Philadelphia (PHL), Needum described Tammie Jo Shults, the pilot who safely landed the flight, as personally greeting every passenger. “She made it a point to stop and talk to every passenger to see if they were OK,” he said.
Shults stopped to talk to Needum’s 5-year-old daughter to tell her that in Shults’ 32 years of flying, her oxygen masks had never come down. “She tried to make it a positive,” Needum’s wife said.
Needum said that the family is still in contact with other passengers who were on board Flight 1380. He expressed his deep condolences to Riordan’s family.
Since the incident on Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board has been conducting its investigation, revealing that the cause of the failure was a metal fatigue fracture. The FAA has since required that all airlines using the same CFM56-7B engine undergo inspection.
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