Southwest Airlines passenger: 'We thought we were going to crash'

Southwest Airlines passenger: 'We thought we were going to crash'

PHILADELPHIA, PA (WAFB) - Four people from Louisiana were on the Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 New York that had to make an emergency landing on Tuesday.

Jill Gasquet, of Walker, her daughter, and two of her granddaughters were on that flight.

"We just didn't know what was going to happen. We thought we were going to crash," said Gasquet. "Everyone started screaming because it was loud and we dropped some. We didn't know if we were going down at that point."

Gasquet said her daughter was traveling to New York for a conference and she and her granddaughters tagged along.

Little did they know, their flight home would never make it to Dallas. The aircraft left LaGuardia Airport around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dallas-bound.  Nearly an hour later, the pilot had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

"First thing we heard was a loud explosion," said Gasquet. "The plane kind of fell at first, you could feel it dropping. Then the plane started shaking. It then leveled out and the oxygen masks came down."

One woman, identified as Jennifer Riorden of New Mexico, was killed after being partially sucked out of that broken window at 30,000 feet. Gasquet's granddaughters were only three rows behind that shattered window and watched as Riorden received CPR. Nearly 150 people were on that flight, seven of which were injured.

"I looked over at my granddaughters to make sure they were okay," said Gasquet.

Gasquet's son-in-law flew to Pittsburgh after hearing the news to rent a car and take the family home. They're expected to be back in Walker by Wednesday night.

"We chose not to fly home," said Gasquet.

Gasquet spoke very highly of one of the flight attendants on the plane and the pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, a Navy veteran.

After the flight landed, Gasquet said Shults spoke to every single passenger and hugged them.

"The pilot was just wonderful. After we landed, she came and talked to everyone. She said she had to drive on manual because the hydraulic had gone out," said Gasquet.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said preliminarily one of the plane's 24 fan blades was missing. Officials said the plane's engine failed and there was damage to the fuselage.

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