Southwest Airlines victim Jennifer Riordan was ‘thoughtful leader’ in New Mexico

Jennifer Riordan

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Jennifer Riordan, a well-known leader in New Mexico and big-hearted altruist, died Tuesday when a Southwest Airlines jet engine failed midair and its debris blew up window, CNN affiliate KOAT reported.

Riordan, 43, was making her way back home to Albuquerque, New Mexico, when a terrifying episode ensued about 20 minutes after the plane left New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Several passengers had to pull her back into the plane when she was sucked out of the shattered window. She died at a Philadelphia hospital after the plane made an emergency landing, authorities said.

She is the first death from an in-flight incident in company history, the airline said.

Riordan had dedicated her life to philanthropy, helping others in Albuquerque and the southwest region, colleagues said.

In her role as vice president of community relations at Wells Fargo in Albuquerque, Riordan managed the volunteer service of more than 1,000 employees since 2008, according to her Linkedin profile.

In a statement, Wells Fargo called her “a well-known leader who was loved and respected.”

Several leaders and government officials in New Mexico were mourning Riordan’s death.

She is survived by two children and her husband, Michael Riordan, who was once the chief operating officer for the City of Albuquerque, KOAT reported.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the city “lost a thoughtful leader who has long been part of the fabric of our community.”

“Her leadership and philanthropic efforts made this a better place every day and she will be terribly missed,” Keller said in a Facebook post.

Riordan had also served on several boards, including the University of New Mexico’s Alumni Association and the New Mexico Broadcaster’s Association.

One of her past employers, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center described her as an “amazing community leader, team member, wife and mother.”

“Her passion for our community, our students and our future was unwavering,” the health center said in a statement.

She was also a parishioner at Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Albuquerque, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe said in a statement.

“We pray for the repose of her soul and for her dear loved ones,” church leaders said.

She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications and had an associate’s degree from Champlain College in Vermont, according to Mission:Graduate, an initiative of the United Way of Central New Mexico.

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