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Texas firefighter made heroic attempt to save woman sucked out of window on Southwest flight

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The engine on Southwest Flight 1380 exploded during a flight from New York City to Dallas. A Texas firefighter is being hailed for his heroic efforts after debris from an engine explosion blew out a window and sucked a 43-year-old woman from her seat and halfway out of the plane. (Image source: Video screenshot)

A Texas firefighter is being hailed for his heroic efforts after debris from an engine explosion blew out a window and sucked an Albuquerque, New Mexico, woman from her seat and halfway out of the plane.

What happened?

On Tuesday, about 30 minutes into Southwest Flight 1380 from New York City to Dallas, the plane lost an engine and sent panicked passengers reaching for their oxygen masks.

Celina firefighter Andrew Needum made sure his family had their oxygen masks secured to their faces.

Then Needum noticed a child seated behind him was having trouble so he quickly jumped up and helped the child, Celina Assistant Fire Chief Shain Hunn told TheBlaze.

Needum looked around to see who else needed assistance and that's when he noticed Tim McGinty trying to pull a woman back inside the plane.

McGinty, a real estate worker, was seated near 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan when she went out the window. He tried to pull her back inside, but he couldn't do it alone.

"When we saw the window was gone somebody saw the lady out of the window so just tried to get her back in and wasn't strong enough," McGinty told reporters after the plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.  "A fireman from Celina, Texas, jumped in there and helped and between the two of us we were able to get her back in."

Together, Needum and McGinty pulled Riordan back inside the plane.

Needum, along with retired school nurse Peggy Phillips, started CPR on Riordan, while the pilot rapidly descended to land the Boeing 737-700.

They attempted to revive Riordan, but her injuries were too severe, and she didn't survive. Riordan, a  mother of two, was vice president of community relations for a Wells Fargo bank.

Hunn said he's extremely proud of Needum and wasn't surprised to hear about his courageous efforts.

"He's an example to others for them to follow," the Celina assistant fire chief said. "He's a servant."

What caused the engine explosion?

The plane's engine showed signs of “metal fatigue,” the National Transportation Safety Board investigators said during a news conference Tuesday night.

One of the engine blades appeared to have come off and is missing, NTSB Chair Robert Sumwalt told reporters.

"There is much more to be done on this," Sumwalt said, adding the full investigation of the accident would take 12-15 months.

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