Bank executive killed in jet tragedy remembered as selfless

National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The Southwest Airlines jet blew the engine at 32,000 feet and got hit by shrapnel that smashed a window, setting off a desperate scramble by passengers to save a woman from getting sucked out. She later died, and seven others were injured. (NTSB via AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico bank executive who died on a Southwest Airlines flight was remembered Wednesday as a dedicated mother of two who helped others find jobs, volunteered around Albuquerque and brought often fractious sides together.

Jennifer Riordan's family said in a statement that the 43-year-old community leader died Tuesday on a flight heading from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Dallas that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after its engine blew in midair and shrapnel hit the plane.

A retired registered school nurse said she performed CPR on Riordan, who passengers say was partially blown out of a damaged window on the jet.

Riordan was killed by blunt impact trauma to her head, neck and torso and her death was ruled accidental, according to James Garrow, spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Health.

Riordan's death generated an outpouring of grief and public sympathy from Albuquerque business leaders, state elected officials, educators, writers and activists — all who portrayed Riordan as gracious and selfless.

"Jennifer's vibrancy, passion, and love infused our community and reached across our country," her family said. "Her impact on everything and everyone she touched can never be fully measured. But foremost, she is the bedrock of our family."

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce held a moment of silence Tuesday night during a special reception for new University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes.

Albuquerque's former poet laureate and slam poetry champion Hakim Bellamy posted on social media that Riordan was a friend to him. "It doesn't seem fair," he said in a tweet .

Erin Muffoletto said Riordan was a fellow Chi Omega sorority sister whom she contacted during the economic crisis in 2008 as Muffoletto struggled to find steady employment.

"She encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone, looked over my resume and really pushed me," said Muffoletto, who eventually became a sought-out lobbyist in the New Mexico Statehouse.

Muffoletto said she spoke with Riordan just days ago. "The last thing she told me was, 'I'm proud of you,'" Muffoletto said.

Rebecca Avitia, the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, said that losing Riordan casts a dark, heavy emptiness on the city.

"I've heard of references in Mesoamerican lore to a female spirit who appeared to people in need like a blazing sun with wings. In Albuquerque, that was Jennifer Riordan," Avitia wrote in online post. "Jennifer, I already miss you."

Riordan was well known in New Mexico, where she built a career over more than two decades in community relations and communications after graduating from the University of New Mexico.

At the time of her death, Riordan was a vice president for community relations with Wells Fargo. She oversaw the company's corporate giving program in New Mexico and volunteered her time with a number of area nonprofit groups and boards.

Riordan was appointed by the governor to a board focused on boosting volunteerism statewide and in 2015 was presented the Bill Daniels Award for Ethical Young Leadership by the Samaritan Counseling Ethics in Business Awards.

"As a parent, I've said to my kids, 'Be kind, loving, caring and sharing, and all good things will come to you'," she told the Albuquerque Journal when she accepted the award.

Riordan also served on the boards of Junior Achievement of New Mexico, New Mexico First and The Catholic Foundation.

Erin Hagenow, Junior Achievement's president, said Riordan was unmatched in her passion for the organization's mission and the students it serves.

"Our work going forward will forever be a testament to Jennifer's belief in the potential of every young person," Hagenow said.

Riordan and her husband, Michael Riordan, a former chief operating officer for Albuquerque under former Mayor Richard Berry, had been married for more than 20 years.

___

Associated Press writers Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, and Ron Todt in Philadelphia, contributed to this story.

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