Terrifying Trip: Southwest Airlines Has Mid-Air Emergency

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Airline passengers bound for Dallas, Texas, from New York City experienced a terrifying flight Tuesday after an engine on a Southwest jet reportedly exploded mid-air. One person was killed and seven others were injured — while a female passenger was reportedly “partially sucked out” of the Boeing 373’s window, as multiple outlets reported.

Marty Martinez, a passenger on the flight, posted a video on his personal Facebook page and said he was “recording his last moments.” Martinez told CBS News there was “blood everywhere” in the airplane.

“We were probably going down for 10 to 15 minutes,” Martinez said. “And of course everyone is freaking out, everyone is crying. It was the scariest experience.”

Martinez shared his feelings on social media as the frightening experience was playing out.

“I literally bought WiFi as the plane was going down because I wanted to be able to reach the people I loved … thinking these were my final moments on earth,” Martinez posted to Facebook.

“And put in a position to have to prioritize the people I loved to send them my final words was an absolutely gut-wrenching feeling,” he continued. “So I thought to ‘Facebook Live’ my experience, thinking this would be my last communication with the people I loved and my team back home.”

Flight 1380 had 144 passengers and five crew members aboard, and was traveling from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Love Field in Dallas. The emergency occurred at about 11:20 a.m., Fox News reported.

At a news conference on Tuesday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt confirmed the death of one passenger. It was the first passenger fatality on a U.S. airline since 2009, according to the NTSB.

The crew reported damage to one of the engines, which prompted the emergency landing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

A female passenger, according to WCAU, was “partially sucked out” of the Boeing 373’s window when the engine exploded and shrapnel from the engine smashed a window.

“One passenger, a woman, was partially … drawn out toward the outside of the plane … [She] was pulled back in by other passengers,” Todd Bauer, the father-in-law of one of the passengers, told the station. It was not clear if the passenger who died was the same woman who was nearly sucked out of the window.

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Seven others were treated for minor injuries, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said, adding that one of the engines experienced a fuel leak when firefighters arrived on scene. A small fire was quickly brought under control.

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson said the Boeing 737-700 diverted “because of an operational event,” but photos appeared to show engine damage.

Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines CEO, shared at a news conference late Tuesday that the crew “handled the situation magnificently” and “did their jobs superbly.” He also said the captain was “very experienced” and started at the airline in 1994.

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“The entire Southwest Airlines family is devastated and extends its deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the customers, employees, family members and loved ones affected by this tragic event,” said a statement from Southwes. “We have activated our emergency response team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy.”

Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor for LifeZette.

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