Retired nurse helped critically injured Southwest Airlines passenger on LaGuardia-to-Dallas flight

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Retired nurse helped Southwest victim
Retired nurse who helped Southwest victim: Katherine Scott reports during Action News Mornings on April 18, 2018.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- A retired nurse who was on the ill-fated New York City-to-Dallas Southwest Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia Tuesday is describing the terrifying incident and her efforts to help save the most seriously injured passenger.

Peggy Phillips said she rushed to the aid of Jennifer Riordan, who was partially pulled out of the airplane after an engine failure led to one of the jet's windows shattering.

"It happened so fast," Phillips said.

Soon after takeoff, she said passengers heard a loud noise, and the plane began to shake.

"I had a moment, when the masks dropped down, when I thought, 'Okay. This might be it. This might be it,'" Phillips said.

Related: Southwest scare: Passenger account from inside plane during emergency landing

Riordan, a bank executive and mother of two from New Mexico, died in the accident. It was the first US plane passenger death since 2009.

Passengers say she was sucked out of the plane from the waist up before two fellow passengers pulled her back in. Phillips, a retired registered school nurse, heard the commotion a few rows behind her. She heard a rush of air, then the call for anyone who knew CPR.

"If you can possibly imagine going through the window of an airplane at about 600 miles an hour 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," Phillips said.

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Phillips and an EMT performed CPR on Riordan for more than 20 minutes, all the way through the emergency landing in Philadelphia. But Riordan did not survive.

As the investigation continues, Phillips said she is grateful for the pilot, crew and fellow passengers.

"There are a lot of really thoughtful and heroic things that went on during the flight," she said. "I can honestly say I was very proud of everyone that was involved in this."

Seven additional passengers were treated for minor injuries.


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