ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Nearly a thousand people gathered to remember the Albuquerque woman who died after an in-flight accident on a Southwest Airlines plane.
The evening service for Jennifer Riordan was held at the Popejoy Hall on the University of New Mexico campus, her alma mater.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community. It truly touches our hearts,” the Riordan family wrote in a statement. “We know there are many in the community who want to celebrate Jennifer.”
The 43-year-old community leader and mother of two was heading home from a business trip Tuesday on a flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport bound for Dallas.
Early in the flight, one of its twin engines exploded. The impact showered the jet with debris and shattered the window next to Riordan. The National Transportation Safety Board believes one of the engine fan blades snapped.
Authorities said Riordan was fatally injured when she was sucked partway through the window. The plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.
Riordan was the only one of the 149 people on board who suffered severe injuries.
New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, speaking at the service, described Riordan as a “pillar of the community.” He presented Riordan’s husband with a flag that was flown at half-staff at the state Capitol in her memory.
Riordan was well known in the Albuquerque area for an established career in community engagement and volunteerism. She served as vice president of community relations for Wells Fargo’s New Mexico operations. She oversaw the company’s corporate giving program in New Mexico and volunteered her time with a number of area nonprofit groups and boards.
She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a communications degree in 1999 and previously worked as the media relations manager at UNM Hospital.