Woman Dies After Getting Sucked Out of and Stuck in an Airplane Window at 32,000 Feet Elevation
Jennifer Riordan died from blunt force trauma after she was sucked out of the window due to an airplane malfunction
On April 17, 2018, Hollie Mackie boarded Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, taking a seat on Row 14C, since her preferred seat in the front was taken already. She planned to catch another flight from Dallas to reach her home in Oklahoma City after landing from this flight and looked forward to arriving home.
Jennifer Riordan took the window seat in Row 14 a few minutes later. Jennifer lived in Albuquerque where she worked as a bank exec for Wells Fargo. A third, younger girl took the middle seat and 140 others boarded the plane and prepared for takeoff.
Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy. Sit where you would like in your ‘grouping area,’ on a first-come, first-serve basis.
After the flight attendant read over a few safety rules, the flight took off.
Hollie attempted to get up as the airplane ascended but the flight attendant quickly ordered her back into her seat. Hollie knew she was not supposed to get up at the time but drank a large coffee before boarding and really needed to pee.
She also had an uneasy feeling that began even before she boarded the flight. Something did not feel right and she could not shake the feeling.
Hollie expected the green light to get out of her seat in a few minutes but when the flight attendant announced that everyone must stay in their seats due to turbulence, a frustrated Hollie decided she would do some work on her computer, hoping to take her mind off the need to pee -and that uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach.
At 11:04 a.m. as the airplane ascended at 32,000 feet, Hollie reached down to grab her laptop, still frustrated that she could not go to the bathroom. As she bent down, Hollie hears a “whooshing sound” and the airplane gets cold. She looks up and sees oxygen masks deployed from the ceilings. People are screaming as the plane leans to the left.
Fan №13 broke off the engine and flew through the air, striking the window in row 14 where Hollie sat. The tiny hole was not large enough to fit a person, yet at the altitude, created hurricane-like forces and anything that isn’t anchored down will get sucked out of the hole.
Hollie looked to her right and neither passenger was in their seat. Suddenly she sees the entire top half of Jennifer’s body wedged outside of the broken window. The girl who took the middle seat fought to stay inside the airplane as the forces banged her against the side of the plane. Hollie grabbed the young girl and pulled her back down to safety. She then focuses her attention on Jennifer.
Hollie grabbed Jennifer’s seatbelt, desperately attempting to pull her back onto the plane. It was useless; the force of the wind against the flying airplane was too great.
Making matters worse, the chaos at the front of the plane diverted the flight attendant and the pilot’s attention. They focused on the damaged engine. Hollie screamed for help but no one could hear her cries. Everyone feared for their own lives at this point and their eyes remained focused on the front of the plane and survival.
Hollie attempted to pull Jennifer back into the airplane again as she screamed for someone to help. She held tightly onto the woman’s body as she realized how dire the situation was. Jennifer had now hung outside of an airplane hovering 32,000 feet in the air without oxygen, stuck inside a window too small for a human, for more than 10 minutes.
The pilot regained control of the airplane moments later. The chaos calmed and suddenly, other passengers and the flight attendant noticed Jennifer hanging out the window and ran to help.
Two men volunteered to pull Jennifer back into the plane despite the potential risks of being sucked out of it themselves. They successfully pulled her back into the plane, laid her on the floor and a nurse named Peggy began to perform CPR.
17 minutes after passengers heard the loud ‘pop’ of the motor, the pilot successfully made an emergency landing.
Paramedics rushed Jennifer to the hospital but sadly she did not survive her injuries, having died from blunt force trauma from the impact outside of the airplane.
The creepiest part of the story is that Hollie originally sat in the seat Jennifer took on the airplane but decided to move because she had drank a large coffee and anticipated going to the bathroom a few times during the flight.
Jennifer was a wife, a mother of two, and a woman with a warm smile and matching heart who hoped to one day change the world.
Rest in peace, Jennifer.