DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – There was a loud bang, and suddenly the Southwest Airlines jet rolled 41 degrees to the left. Smoke began to fill the cabin, and flight attendants rushed row by row to make sure all passengers could get oxygen from their masks.
When flight attendant Rachel Fernheimer got to row 14, she saw a woman still restrained by her lap belt but with her head, torso and arm hanging out a window.
Fernheimer grabbed one of the woman’s legs while flight attendant Seanique Mallory grabbed her lower body.
The new accounts of the harrowing April incident involving the Southwest Airlines jet are being released just as federal safety officials begin questioning representatives from engine maker CFM International and Boeing about the engine failure on Flight 1380, which carried 144 passengers and five crew members.
The board is still investigating the April 17 accident, in which an engine fan blade broke and debris hit the plane, killing 43-year-old wife and mother Jennifer Riordan, who was partially sucked out of a broken window. The flight attendants described being unable to bring the Riordan back in the plane until two male passengers stepped in to help.
The flight attendants told investigators at least one of the men put his arm out of the window and wrapped it around the woman’s shoulder to help pull her back in. Fernheimer said when she looked out the window, she could see that one of the plane’s engines was shattered, and there was blood on the outside of the aircraft.
Riordan’s death was the first on a U.S. airline flight since 2009. Eight other passengers including at least one of the men who helped pull Riordan back in the window, suffered minor injuries.
Pilots Tammie Jo Shults and Darren Ellisor made an emergency landing of the crippled Boeing 737-700 in Philadelphia.
Wednesday’s hearing in Washington focused on design and inspection of fan blades on the engine, made by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and France’s Safran S.A.
After the accident, CFM recommended more advanced and frequent blade inspections, and regulators made those changes mandatory.
Representatives from CFM, Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration were also expected to be questioned about design of the engine housing, which is supposed to prevent pieces from breaking loose.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)