On Tuesday, a Southwest Airlines jet experienced a violent cabin depressurization after a fragment of a damaged engine flew into a window, breaking it. As the air in the cabin rushed out of the window, a female passenger was partially sucked out of the aircraft. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt confirmed the death. At a news conference Tuesday, he noted that this was the first passenger fatality on a U.S. airline since 2009. The incident occurred on a Southwest flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas, Texas.
An engine sustained serious damage during the flight, and a piece of aircraft from the engine area came loose. The fragment stuck a window, causing it to break.
When the window shattered, the cabin depressurized rapidly, creating enough force to pull a woman toward the hole.
“One passenger, a woman, was partially… was drawn out towards the out of the plane,” said Todd Baur, the father of one of the passengers. He added that the woman “was pulled back in by other passengers.”
Marty Martinez, a passenger on the flight, took to Facebook, stating, “Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!!”
The aircraft, which was carrying 149 people, landed in safely Philadelphia.
Martinez later added, according to a report by the New York Post, “Someone on the plane had a heart attack and it looks like an engine blew out then a window was blown open. We are still on the plane and they are trying to revive a woman on the plane.”
Firefighters and emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene and provided passengers with aid. According to a report by NBC 10, passengers could be seen leaving the aircraft on crutches.
Baur said that the woman who was partially sucked out of the plane was taken to an area hospital.