ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The husband of an Albuquerque woman killed in a Southwest Airlines jet that blew an engine while flying said he broke the news about her death to their two children at their school, telling them: “Mommy’s not coming home, guys.”
Michael Riordan told ABC News in an interview broadcast Tuesday that that he asked the children to kneel with him, held their hands and told them he did not “know what that means for the rest of our lives yet.”
Jennifer Riordan, 43, was a well-known figure in New Mexico in community relations and communications and died last week after passengers said she was partially sucked out the window of a flight bound from New York to Dallas. The jet’s engine had blown in midair and shrapnel hit the plane.
A retired registered school nurse said she performed CPR on Riordan. She died of blunt impact trauma to her head, neck and torso and her death was ruled accidental, according to James Garrow, spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Health.
The National Transportation Safety Board believes one of the engine’s fan blades snapped.
Riordan, who was informed about his wife’s death by a doctor, said he told his 10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter they would live the rest of their lives “with mommy in our hearts.”
In a separate interview Tuesday with NBC News, Riordan said he hadn’t fully processed his wife’s death.
“I have not been angry yet,” Riordan said in an interview with NBC News’ “Today.” “I’m sure it’s coming.”
Riordan first met his wife as a teenager in Vermont and said they talked for the last time when she called him before boarding the flight. The couple had planned to go see their son’s little league baseball game that evening.
“She called just to say, ‘I’m going to the airport,’ and we said, ‘love you, safe travels,’” said Riordan, a former chief operating officer for the city of Albuquerque.
They were married for more than 20 years.