Michael Riordan met his wife Jennifer in a shopping mall 29 years ago. He was 17 years old. She was just 15.
Last week, Michael’s world changed when he learned Jennifer had been killed on Southwest Flight 1380 after an engine failed 32,000 feet above the ground on April 17.
Jennifer, a 43-year-old bank executive and mother of two, was partially sucked out of the plane’s window, despite wearing her seat belt. Her fellow passengers were able to pull her back inside of the aircraft but were not able to save her.
Jennifer became the first person to die in an accident on a U.S. airline in nearly 10 years.
Michael sat down with ABC News in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to share how he learned about Jennifer’s death and how he broke the news to their young children.
It began with a phone call from the chaplain at the Philadelphia hospital where Jennifer’s body was taken after the flight made an emergency landing.
“The chaplain at the hospital called and said, ‘We need to speak with Mike Riordan who is married to Jennifer. Are you married to Jennifer Riordan?'” Michael said. “I said, ‘Yes, but she wasn’t going through Philadelphia. She was planning on going to Chicago so I don’t think you –‘ just absolute denial. I’m still in denial.”
The chaplain told Michael he was going to have the doctor call him. Before the doctor got through, however, Michael was able to search for news online that could have affected Jennifer.
“I saw one passenger brought to the hospital, like, ‘OK, but the whole plane didn’t crash,'”…