The heartbroken husband of the woman partially sucked out of a Southwest Airlines flight exchanged one last “love you” with her before she died — and recalled the moment he had to tell their children, “Mommy’s not going to come home.”
Michael Riordan broke his silence a week after Jennifer, the mother of his two children, died April 17 after an engine suddenly exploded at 32,000 feet, blasting a shower of debris through the cabin.
“Our last conversation was that. She called just to say, ‘I’m going to the airport,’ and we said, ‘Love you, safe travels,'” Michael said on NBC’s “Nightly News.”
Michael, a former chief operating officer for the city of Albuquerque, where the couple lived, remembered the gut-wrenching phone call informing him that something had happened on Jennifer’s flight.
“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 recalled to ABC News. “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 said a doctor was going to call Michael. But in the meantime, he went online and searched for news stories about the freak accident.
“I saw one passenger brought to the hospital, like, ‘OK, but the whole plane didn’t crash,'” he told ABC. “I was like, ‘She can’t be injured that bad. She’s just in a hospital, but I can get out there and I can hold her hand and love on her.'”
But that’s when the doctor called to deliver the bad news. He said they tried everything they could to save Jennifer, but it was too late.
“I immediately thought of the kids, and how do you tell your kids their mom was gone?” Michael said.
Jennifer, a 43-year-old banking executive, was set to reunite with her family at their son’s baseball game that Tuesday night after landing.
Instead, Michael drove to their kids’ school and pulled them both into a chapel.
“I just held their little hands and took a knee and said, ‘Mommy’s not going to come home, guys,'” he said.
The grieving dad said his children have kept him going since Jennifer’s passing.
“I have not been angry yet,” he told NBC. “I’m sure it’s coming. I’m keeping my love for her in my heart, and I’m staying strong for my children, and I’m soaking in their looks to me.”
“She’s going to be with us forever, and everything we do as a family is going to be based on Jennifer Riordan,” he added.
Jennifer became the first person to die in an accident on a US airline in nearly 10 years.
The Dallas-bound flight, which had 149 people on board, had just departed from LaGuardia Airport when it was diverted to Philadelphia for an emergency landing.