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tv   2020  ABC  May 11, 2018 10:01pm-11:00pm PDT

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life was being cut short. i'm 29 years old. >> there's been an accident. >> in the navy there's a saying whatever it takes. >> reporter: tonight the southwest pilots speaking out for the first time anywhere. >> were you praying in that cockpit? >> constantly. >> she had nerves of steel. >> a total bad ass. >> now we're putting you on that flight to the terror inside the cabin. >> there was this incredibly loud explosion. >> my initial thought was this is how i'm going to die. >> passengers risking their own lives to save a woman in danger. >> does anybody know cpr?
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>> being partially pulled out a broken window. >> the plane had pulled. >> i went to the window. >> come on. get her back in, babe. >> the grief of the husband and father whose wife didn't make it home. >> we tried everything we could. she couldn't make it. how do you tell your kids their mom is gone? >> the heart break and heroism. >> take cover. >> when years of training turn into a life and death situation. >> how do you train the fear out of someone? >> i'm elizabeth vargas. >> i'm david muir. tonight our martha raddatz. she's been on this story from the start. >> reporter: it is a tuesday
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morning in new york city. 144 passengers have a flight to catch. 144 people, 144 stories. heading for laguardia airport, and a southwest airlines flight to dallas love field. peggy phillips, a school nurse, had been visiting her daughter and a grandbaby in new york. >> the baby's almost crawling now. >> reporter: now it was time to go home to texas. >> and so you know, we kissed, we hugged, and then out the door and in the cab and off to the airport. >> reporter: hollie mackey, an associate professor of women's and gender studies at the university of oklahoma. marty martinez, owner of a dallas digital marketing agency, leaving new york after some meetings. matt tranchin, eager to get home to his wife molly. >> we are expecting our first
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child in six weeks, seven? seven weeks? >> six weeks. >> reporter: tim and amanda bourman. >> hallelujah. >> reporter: tim is a pastor at a lutheran church in queens, new york. >> and we have three daughters. tayley is six, brooke is four and felicity is two. >> reporter: now they're off to a conference in dallas, just the two of them. >> i have never been away from my children before, overnight. >> she wept when we walked away from felicity. she's our two year old. >> so, it was gonna be hard. i knew right away from that. >> reporter: texans tim and kristin mcginty, wrapping up a long weekend in new york. >> his favorite thing was the broadway play that we saw, wasn't it? >> maybe. it was good. i really enjoyed it. >> reporter: what'd you see? >> yeah. >> it's called "beautiful." ♪ one fine day you'll look at me ♪ >> reporter: andrew and stephanie needum, she a kindergarten teacher, he a
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firefighter paramedic, were visiting from small town celina, texas. >> it's the first time i had been up there. first time she had been up there as well. we were mesmerized by the high-rise buildings, so. >> reporter: breathtaking new york, and the heartbreaking 9/11 memorial. >> those guys were goin' up those flights of stairs to help others, to rescue others. you know, what greater way to lose your life than to be serving others? >> reporter: the planes, the towers, the sacrifice still on their minds as they headed for their own flight. firefighter, nurse. pastor, professor and one more. jennifer riordan, 43, a married mother of two, and bank executive. the night before, she'd tweeted this photo saying what a great stay she had in the city. now she was homeward bound, connecting in dallas on the way to albuquerque. what were you going to do that night? what were your plans? >> my son had a baseball game
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that she was going to arrive. it had already started but she was going to come join us over there and watch little joshy play some baseball. >> reporter: you said you had a sense of foreboding. >> i was getting -- just a feeling inside that -- that something wasn't right. >> reporter: waiting at the gate, southwest airlines flight 1380, a boeing 737-700. the giant jet engine idling as the crew gets ready. three flight attendants preparing the cabin. up in the cockpit, captain tammie jo shults and first officer darren ellisor. no indication of any problems whatsoever? >> no. >> right. >> reporter: she and darren had already flown from nashville to new york that morning. she had begun her day as always, with the bible. >> i always text my family a scripture of the day. >> reporter: although she and darren are both long-time southwest employees, they had met for the first time only the day before. on this morning, tammie jo got
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them all off to a good start. >> i wanted starbucks, and i asked tammie jo if she'd like me to go buy starbucks for us. and she goes, "no, you have too much work to do." so she said, you know, for me to go to the aircraft and then she, ten minutes later shows up with five starbucks, you know, and her roller bag, you know, balancing act to get on the plane. >> reporter: you weren't originally scheduled to fly that day, were you? >> no, i traded for the trip with my husband. i'm not tradin' with him anymore. >> reporter: shults' husband dean is also a southwest pilot. they had traded flight schedules. >> i help coach my son's throwing event. and so he had a track meet that i really wanted to go to. so dean, being the amazing husband he is, said, "you go to the track meet, i'll switch and take your trip." and so that's why i was on the trip.
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>> boarding will start in a few more minutes. >> reporter: unlike most airlines, southwest does boarding differently. no reserved seats. passengers line up and board in sections, where you sit is the luck of the draw. >> superstitiously i saw row 13 was open, and i thought, "well, i don't wanna sit there. >> reporter: she continues to row 14. at first taking seat 14-a. >> i had actually initially taken the window seat. and then i'd had a really large cup of coffee and thought, "i'm gonna be inconveniencing everybody because i'm gonna need to get up multiple times." and so i had shifted over and decided to take the aisle seat. >> reporter: and that's a seat where jennifer riordan ended up sitting. >> yeah. >> reporter: the random effect of fate, or coffee. >> it was very much, like, choose your own fate, you know? um, because i got to choose my own seat. and there were plenty of other
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passengers that walked by row 14 and decided to sit in another, in another seat. >> reporter: in the cabin, the usual instructions. what to do in case of what nobody wants to think about. tammie jo taxis the plane from the gate to the runway and hands it over the darren. >> the captain always taxis. so i've got control of it on the ground, and then if it's his turn to fly we switch then we do a positive control of the aircraft, and he took off. >> reporter: a few words of welcome from the captain and they were heading down the runway. >> everything was very routine. >> reporter: and then it wasn't. >> that's correct. >> reporter: 144 passengers, 144 stories, about to come together for a singularly harrowing ordeal at 32,000 feet.
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a journey that will stay with them the rest of their lives. still ahead, the boom. >> we had a large bang and a rapid decompression. >> my first thoughts were actually, "oh, here we go." >> reporter: a broken window, and the desperate fight to save the passenger in seat 14-a. >> the flight attendant she just yelled it out, "does anybody know cpr?" >> reporter: stay with us. anyone who looked like me. idn'te that's why i started my blog to inspire people to be themselves. the surface laptop has already made me more productive. i'm creating mood boards. i'm editing content. or i'm running around new york with a huge bouquet of balloons. so having a light laptop is a game changer. plus the battery life on the surface lives forever. my blog is sometimes about fashion, sometimes about sprinkles. it's usually always about color. find what makes you different, because that sets you apart from everyone else. mcdonald's new fresh beef has left nathan speechless. so here is john goodman to speak for him. that there is 100% fresh beef.
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...and stunning engagement rings. give a gift only for her... ...only at jared®. >> reporter: southwest airlines 1380, new york to dallas, was not unlike any of the other 25,000 or so passenger flights that took off and landed across the country without incident that tuesday. at least for the first 20 minutes. >> everything was very routine.
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i kinda chatted with the people next to me a little bit and, you know, we were just doing the usual, you know? "oh, yes. hi, how are you? it's a great day to fly. da, da, da." >> reporter: bustling crew, and carefree passengers never suspecting where their journey was about to take them. >> i think maybe five, ten minutes after the flight took off, took out my laptop, and began just doing work. >> reporter: in row 14, at the window, is jennifer riordan. in the middle seat, a young teenage girl. on the aisle, hollie mackey. >> jennifer was reading her paperback and the girl was on her phone hunched over. and i was reading on my ipad. >> i kind of had dozed off and then he was playing sodoku. >> i put my headphones in and started watchin' the movie. i was laughing at the movie.
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it was a comedy. >> reporter: suduko, a paperback, a comedy, and all the while, bearing down on them at 500 miles an hour -- tragedy. >> for 20 minutes we had a totally normal flight. totally normal. >> reporter: at 11:03 am, with first officer darren ellisor flying, and captain tammie jo shults montoring, the plane and its passengers and crew left normal. >> we were passin' through about 32,000 feet when we had a large bang and a rapid decompression. >> there was a loud explosion on the left side of the plane. >> and it shook the plane badly. so, badly that this flight attendant that was walking toward me that i could see, grabbed hold of the seat, kind of stumbled and almost fell. >> we immediately began dropping. the oxygen masks fell. and it was terrifying. >> reporter: the number one engine, on the left side of the plane had broken into pieces, hurling shrapnel through the air.
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>> and almost immediately i felt the rush of wind. >> it almost felt like -- kind of, like, a car crash in a way. but much worse. >> what's the first thing you did? >> started tightenin' seatbelts. you know? >> you grabbed her hand right away, i bet? >> he did. >> that was the first immediate thought. like, "the plane is gonna crash." but i just prayed and -- and i felt a peace come over me, which was somethin' i didn't expect to have, but was very comforting. >> reporter: then came the screams. >> two, maybe three screams. just -- screams. bad screams. >> reporter: the screams were coming from back in row 14, where a terrible scene was unfolding. that broken engine had hurled a chunk of metal, shattering the window at seat 14a, where jennifer riordan had been sitting, reading her paperback.
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that caused a violent whirlwind of depressurization that snatched her halfway out of the plane. >> when you first looked over and saw jennifer, what did you see? >> from about her -- her ribcage -- the bottom part of her ribcage-up, was -- was out the window. >> reporter: only the seatbelt kept jennifer's body from flying all the way out of the plane. hollie dropped her life-saving air mask and tried to help. >> i had leaned over to try to pull jennifer in. and the plane had rolled and that -- that was my four seconds of terror where i thought -- >> was it rolling towards the open window? >> yeah, we were -- we were going towards the open window. and -- and i -- i -- really i thought, "well, we're gonna go down." >> reporter: hollie and the girl in the middle seat began a desperate tug-of-war, trying to pull jennifer back inside the plane.
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they couldn't budge her. and hollie began to fear she or the girl would be the next to go. >> i did think that we were probably next to get pulled out of the plane. and the girl was so small, so i wrapped around the girl, and i pulled her over to me so she was farther from the window. and i put my hand on jennifer's back so then if she was conscious or could feel anything she would at least know that we were there. >> reporter: from row 13, tim mcginty rushed back to help. >> i went to the window and tried to -- >> reporter: but he too was helpless, no match for the enormous pressure. the memory is overwhelming. >> just tried to pull her in. and -- it was just -- i, you know, couldn't. just couldn't.
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>> reporter: up in row seven, andrew needum, the firefighter paramedic, checked on his family and then went into first responder mode. >> i can remember lookin' to stephanie and we made eye contact. and basically, that eye contact gave me the approval to do my thing and start lookin' around and seein' what needed to be done. it's just an instinctive reaction for me, i guess. >> reporter: andrew joined tim mcginty's desperate struggle at seat 14c. the terrifying tornado trying to suck everything out of the plane stopped as cabin pressure equalized and together, the men were able to pull jennifer back inside, where they laid her across the seats. a flight attendant called for help. >> "does anybody know cpr?" and i was like, "i do." mask. seatbelt. gone.
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yeah. >> reporter: peggy phillips, a nurse, came back from row 11, on the double. >> i didn't know yet that she'd actually been sucked out of the plane. i wasn't aware of that yet. what i did know is that i've got to start helping andrew do cpr. so i just shut everything else out. shut it all out and started giving compressions and trying to open an airway. >> and we just started workin', just simultaneously. she knew what she was doin'. i knew what i was doin'. and we just did everything that we could to try to revive mrs. riordan. >> reporter: still ahead -- as peggy and andrew try to save one of their fellow passengers, the pilots are trying to save all the passengers. even as their badly wounded plane shudders toward the ground. they may have lost an engine but they say they never lost faith. >> as long as you have altitude
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>> reporter: with a blown engine, a smashed window, and a depressurized cabin, southwest flight 1380 was in serious trouble and everyone aboard knew it. you've heard the expression, a wing and a prayer. they were living it. they weren't going to make it to
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dallas. the passengers were thinking they weren't going to make it, period. >> put yourself in this situation. you don't know how much time you have left and i remember being so like paralyzed in that moment. >> it was clear that the situation was dire. >> reporter: in the next seat, matt tranchin was trying to send a message to his pregnant wife, molly. >> at that point, you just -- you just say your goodbyes. and that's when i took out my phone, and immediately sent molly a message just telling her i -- i loved her, and something was wrong. >> reporter: incredibly molly is able to get a phone call through to matt on the plane. >> i just said, you know, "i'm here with you. i'm gonna be here with you until the end," you know, "don't hang up." >> reporter: in the midst of calamity, still struggling with his air mask, marty martinez paid eight dollars for wi-fi, and began streaming on facebook live. >> i wanted to like tell, you know, the people that mattered to me, that -- that i loved them.
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and it was just like a very difficult -- it was a very difficult thing to do, like, and i remember being so mad that i felt as though my life was being cut short. >> reporter: as other passengers prepared for the worst, a small band, tim mcginty, firefighter andrew needum and peggy phillips, a nurse, had tuned all that out. >> i was just focused on the -- what was right in front of me. that was my task, that was my job. and i -- i had to give her my very, very best, and that was all of my attention. >> reporter: they were doing everything they could for jennifer riordan, who had been pulled halfway through the broken window. >> to be honest, i wouldn't have done this interview if i didn't think that maybe some closure could come to the family, to know that she did not suffer. >> reporter: she was gone when you got there?
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>> i think so. i mean you didn't know at the time. >> we did what we could with what we had. the odds were just stacked against us. >> reporter: while they worked to save jennifer riordan, how would the flight crew save the other 143 passengers? up in the cockpit, captain tammie jo shults and first officer darren ellisor, who was behind the controls, not really sure what was happening in the back. >> the aircraft yawed and banked to the left, a little over degrees and we had a -- a very severe vibration from the number one engine that was -- shaking everything. and -- that all kind of happened
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all at once. >> reporter: the whole thing was shaking? >> uh-huh, yes. >> reporter: a lot? >> yes. >> reporter: what did you think had happened? >> my immediate reaction was a -- a seizure of the engine. >> reporter: that's pilot speak for engine failure. >> southwest 1380. we're single engine. >> reporter: as we now know the engine did more than stall. it blew apart. >> it was -- very disorienting to have all these things happen at once. and i actually couldn't make heads or tails of -- of what was going on. >> reporter: at what point did you know it was something more serious? >> pretty immediately because the seizure of the aircraft would not cause a rapid decompression. so we knew that something extraordinary had happened pretty quickly. >> reporter: as the plane started descending, tammie jo and darren each put on their oxygen masks and say their instincts took over from there. >> he started and then i put mine on and then we had some switchology to do to be able to communicate through the mask. and then it was really just back to flying. aviate, navigate, communicate. >> reporter: at the helm of the aircraft, the woman often mistaken for a flight attendant, and whose mere presence in the cockpit has left some passengers unsettled. >> every once in awhile there
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would be a passenger that would look at me, see the stripes and say, "are you flying?" and if i answered "yes," every once in awhile they'd turn around and get off. >> reporter: they'd turn around and get off? >> right, they'd just shake their head. "not for me." >> reporter: but gender bias, is something tammie jo says she has long endured in her journey to the cockpit. at a young age she was convinced she had the right stuff, but at first she seemed to be the only one. >> initially, i could not talk anyone into accepting my application. i had a clipping of a newspaper that said, "if you have your college degree, come join the air force, we need pilots." and they said, "if you have a brother, we'll talk to him, but we don't want to talk to you." >> reporter: eventually a navy recruiter signed her up. >> then i was getting my head shaved "g.i. jane" style. >> translator: tammie jo had finally earned her gold wings, raising to the rank of lieutenant.
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she was also among the first female f-18 fighter pilots, seen here in an old news report. >> i joined the military because i wanted to be a warrior and getting to fly what we've been trained to fly would be great. >> reporter: but up until the early 90's, women weren't allowed to fly combat missions. instead they were relegated to teaching the men. just like kelly mcgillis did with tom cruise in "top gun." >> if you think, you're dead. >> that's a big gamble with a $30 million plane. >> reporter: you were training men to do what you weren't allowed to do. >> right. right. a little odd. >> reporter: in 1993, she left the navy and has been flying for southwest for 25 years. to her right, in that cockpit, 44-year-old darren ellisor. 12 years her junior, but just as qualified. also a former military pilot who according to his parents dreamed
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of flying since childhood. >> by the time he was 14, he was in ninth grade, he made a commitment that he wanted to go to the air force academy. >> reporter: it's no wonder they were right at home at the intrepid sea, air and space museum in new york where we conducted our interview this week about that harrowing incident where all that military training kicked in. >> in the navy there's a saying, "whatever it takes." >> everybody breathe, everybody breathe, we are almost landing. everybody breathe, we are almost there. >> the flight attendants had communicated that there was a window out. and then they later communicated that -- that we would need ems. >> reporter: that must have been a punch in the gut, though, when you heard that someone was injured. >> uh-huh. >> that's when we decided it was time to go land. >> reporter: when we come back, flight 1380 adds an unscheduled stop to the itinerary. >> okay, where would you like to go to? which airport?
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>> philadelphia. >> the flight attendants came over the pa and they started saying, "brace for impact. take cover. brace for impact." >> they said, "brace yourself, brace yourself, brace yourself," just over and over and i look out the window and we're descending pretty rapidly. >> reporter: did you worry you might not make it? next. any lingering doubts ad about the acceleration... horsepower... and all-around performance... of a lexus hybrid, this should clear the air. lexus hybrids. crafted to be fast as h. now comparably priced to the rest of the lineup. experience amazing at your lexus dealer. give mom the perfect gift's and get kohl's cash! give her adidas sneakers or diamond earrings and get kohl's cash! give her the new fitbit and you'll get $40 kohl's cash! plus shop other great gifts storewide the more you spend the more you save!
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better together. he's been called a rockstar lwinning pro bono battles for immigrants and the homeless. defending gay rights and gun control. democrat jeff bleich. after columbine, bleich led president clinton's youth violence initiative. with joe biden, bleich took on domestic violence. served president obama as special counsel and ambassador. maybe bleich can't pull off the rockstar look... but his progressive record is solid gold. i support the affordable care act, and voted against all trump's attempts to repeal it. but we need to do more.
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>> reporter: captain tammie jo shults and first officer darren ellisor have their hands full trying to get 144 passengers and five crew members back on the ground safely. the crushing rush of wind from
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the breach in the main cabin has invaded the cockpit. >> how would you describe yourselves in the cockpit? i mean, it's this whooshing sound? >> drive 80 miles an hour on the freeway, roll all your windows down. of course we were going faster than that. >> we had to use hand signals, because it was loud. and there was -- it was just hard to communicate. >> a lot of -- a lot of -- a lot of pointing. >> a lot of pointing. >> and nodding. >> reporter: the pilots put the plane into a dive heading for lower altitude. >> when the oxygen masks drop, you have to descend quickly. >> uh-huh. >> and why is that? >> well, the air up at 32,000 feet has a lot less oxygen in it. so, you can start to get hypoxia symptoms. you could pass out. >> reporter: on the ground, air traffic controller cory davids noticed something wasn't right. >> the aircraft was turning a little bit left off course. all i heard was static and a couple of bells and whistles.
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my first thought that maybe there was a struggle in the cockpit, similar to 9/11. >> southwest 1380 has an engine fire. descending. >> i mean, she really had nerves of steel. >> okay, where would you like to go to? which airport? >> give us a vector for your >> i don't know what it's like to be on a plane that ends up crashing, where everyone on board dies. but it sure felt like that's how it begins. >> tammie jo come over the intercom and says that, you know, "we're gonna be emergency landing in philadelphia." >> i started crying pretty uncontrollably because, you know, this was -- the end i didn't think we were going to make it. >> i was glad to hear that they had found a runway for us. but, i wasn't believing that we were going to make it with everything going on. >> is your airplane physically on fire? >> reporter: shults relays a message to an incredulous air traffic controller. >> no, it's not on fire, but
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part of it's missing. they said there was a hole and, uh, someone went out. >> um, i'm sorry, you said there was a hole and somebody went out? >> reporter: as the 737 continues its rapid air traffic clears the way, stopping all planes in and out of philadelphia. flight 1380 punches through the clouds giving passengers their first glimmer of hope. >> i was kinda saying the lord's prayer. at first it was, "please, please, please, let me see land." >> as soon as we could see land, i felt like we had a chance of this not having a horrific ending. we were on a call and i remember saying, "i see land, sweetheart. i see land. we're gonna try and land." >> they had us, you know, bend over, and -- and put our hands above our heads. >> brace. >> and -- and yeah, and brace for the landing. >> the flight attendants came over the pa and they started saying, "brace for impact. take cover.
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brace for impact." she was just shouting over and over. >> "brace for impact. brace for impact." >> the coming in was terrifying. i knew we were going too fast. >> reporter: meanwhile, nurse peggy phillips and firefighter andrew needum never stop trying to revive fellow passenger jennifer riordan. >> andrew was like, "brace." and then he's like pushing me kind of down to the floor, and he continued to do compressions even as we landed. >> reporter: the plane hits the runway at roughly 190 miles per hour, much faster than the typical 155. but those in the cabin don't seem to mind. >> and then we landed. everyone cheered. >> that's when everybody -- the magnitude of what happened really hit people. >> i picked my phone up, and i said, "sweetheart, we made it. i'm alive. i love you." >> it was one of the best landings i ever had on an airplane, to be honest. >> reporter: all the training had paid off. but even on terra firma, captain shults was a creature of habit, following the strict pilot protocol before leaving her jump seat.
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>> how you practice is how you play even like putting away our oxygen mask and things like that after the flight. >> despite the fact that that airplane was pretty much trashed, you still put your oxygen mask in its place, correct? >> absolutely. >> reporter: paramedics rush jennifer riordan off the plane and as passengers begin their exit, captain shults emerges from the cockpit. >> i took a walk through just to have eye contact and speak to them. we wanted to know if they were okay. >> i was so in shock i didn't really realize who she was or -- you know what i mean? i didn't know that was a pilot. and, you know, i said, "man, the guy that landed this thing is really awesome." you know? >> he just said that he wanted to go shake the hands of the guys who landed the aircraft. >> and she turned and she looked at me and she said, "i landed this bird." you know?
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yep, cool. cool lady. >> she explained about the hydraulics. i said how did you land the plane? she said pilates. >> i said you're a >> reporter: then there's a picture of you with your phone up to your ear. who were you talking to? >> i was talking to my wife. she thought i was talking about some other event going on. then i said the words, jen, i'm okay. there's been an >> reporter: despite the heroic efforts both in front and in back of the plane, no one could escape the pall of what had happened in row 14.
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>> it seems it's a complicated pride because you lost a passenger. >> right. >> regardless of us being safe, none of us were okay, because one of us wasn't. i just kept thinking, like -- like, if i was strong enough, if i had pulled her in, would she live? >> you did everything you possibly could have done. everything. >> i'm still figuring that out. >> reporter: still ahead -- a husband's grief. >> i immediately thought of the kids and how you tell your kids and their mom's gone. >> reporter: and lingering questions about what went wrong on flight 1380.
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>> southwest airlines plane. >> about 20 minutes into the flight -- >> we transported one patient in critical condition. >> i saw one passenger was brought to the hospital like ok but the whole plane didn't crash. 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. >> reporter: michael riordan, married for 21 years to jennifer, sat down with me on one of those heart wrenching days just after her death. >> and then two minutes later, i got a phone call from the doctor who said we're sorry we tried everything we could. she couldn't make it. i immediately thought of the kids and how you tell your kids and their mom's gone. >> reporter: he gathered his
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10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter at the most comforting place he knew, the church where he and jennifer had celebrated their kids' baptisms and first communions. >> i just held their little hands. we took a knee and i said mommy's not going to come home guys and i don't know what that means for the rest of our life yet or tomorrow. but what we're going to live out the rest of our life with mommy in our hearts and in the way that she wanted us to be. >> reporter: starting with this memorial service. >> why is everybody so quiet? it's a celebration. >> reporter: you spoke at her memorial and said that you didn't want people to be quiet because it was a celebration of life. >> you already said it. >> say it anyway. >> she's an amazing
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>> it was the only time in the last week that i felt at peace. the love in this room, i just want to keep that going for a long time! i felt like she was just looking all over us, with her check box, like "yes that's what i would've wanted, check! that's what i would have wanted, check!" >> jen would be so proud that i'm up here because she always pushed me to be better and stronger and brighter. >> there's not a conversation i had with her or a text that i exchanged that didn't end with "i love you!" >> reporter: kind, loving, caring and sharing. those are her words? >> those are the words she lived by. that she spoke. there's no better way to explain jennifer riordan than kind, loving, caring. >> she was so close to heaven that the angels recognized her and plucked her from the sky. >> jennifer knew this world was a good place. >> i give thanks today and always, for the life and the love of jennifer riordan. i love you! >> it was just the best hour, hour and a half that i'll have probably for the rest of my life now. >> reporter: he said he would eventually welcome a chance to speak with the pilots, but not yet. >> we wanted to be respectful and let them have some time to mourn without us being public. so we haven't gotten to speak to
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them, but we do send them our condolences. >> reporter: mike says it's too soon for him to concentrate on the investigation into what happened. but not for others. >> reporter: as you look back on what happened, do you have thoughts about the investigation, what they've found, what they haven't found, are you following -- are you tracking that? >> i've been tracking it, yeah. i have a lot of questions. >> i think it's incredibly important that they, you know, figure out what caused it. and just ways that they could, they could work to, um, avoid this situation you know, kind of moving forward. >> the aircraft began a rapid uncommanded left roll. >> reporter: ntsb investigators have determined what went wrong. a broken fan blade. >> the fan blade, it separated in two places. >> there are 24 fan blades on that engine used to suck in massive amounts of air to propel the plane forward. cracks, invisible to the naked
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eye had formed in two places on one of those blades. and when it broke, debris somehow blew apart the protective housing called the cowling. and a piece of that cowling crashed into the window. >> these blades are made of titanium. they are really strong. >> it's a really good engine and those fan blades were supposed to last for 60 thousand flights. >> reporter: southwest and the engine manufacturer expressed condolences to all affected and said they're working together to quickly inspect all of these engines in the sw fleet. >> the bigger picture is these engines have been flying for 20 years on 737s. generally aviation is safer than it has ever been. >> reporter: as a condition of our interview, we agreed not to ask tammie jo and darren about the ntsb investigation while it's still pending. but they did say, they have no
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qualms about flying >> given what you've been through, do you feel safe in that airplane? >> oh, yeah. >> absolutely. >> reporter: absolutely? >> absolutely. >> reporter: no, you get in it right away and fly again no problem? >> absolutely. >> oh yeah. >> reporter: you just see it as an accident that won't happen again hopefully? >> right. it's definitely something we'll do until our kid for hollywood's biggest stars. and, with his vintage-inspired collection at kay jewelers, he designs them for the star in your life. the inspiration for this ring goes back almost 100 years. it's based on an art deco design.
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house. we met the passengers and that was pretty emotional for all of us. >> just to have the opportunity to meet them the other day at the white house, it was phenomenal. >> we're kind of one big family now. >> reporter: a family that now extends to sully sullenberger, the captain who famously navigated a heroic landing of his own. not surprisingly, they've been in touch. >> he was so gracious. spending some time just giving us some ideas of how to navigate some of the waters ahead. >> he sort of sees his life before that happened and after that happened. do you feel like going forward your life is going to be radically different? >> i think it will be different, but, there's been some -- some pretty hard jinx in my life before. i think it will be different, but i think it'll be a good different. >> reporter: what started as a routine flight has rerouted the journey of life for all of the
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survivors. >> oh my goodness, i'm getting emotional. >> reporter: pastor tim bourman is back in front of his congregation. though he preaches through a very different prism now. >> i figured we'll just take a sunday and talk about how to be unbroken after trauma. >> reporter: healing comes at different speeds for different people. >> how will it change me? probably make me less ornery. >> maybe. >> i think that it makes you realize how precious every single moment of your life is. >> i'm thankful that god put the people on that plane to land it safely. and i'm just grateful for the opportunity to -- to be here. >> there's a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. and we felt, i think, all of that that day. >> reporter: and that hero label was almost immediate. >> i thought it was misfit. >> i don't really see myself as a hero. i did my job.
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tammie jo, we just -- we did what we're trained for. people in the back of the plane were very heroic. >> i mean, they paid for a seat in the back to relax and they were up and at it to help. it's always stirring when you get to see heroics in other people. it's just stirring. >> they are all heros. both those pilots plan to start flying again in june. >> no surprised. our thanks to martha tonight. that is "20/20." i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas. for all of us from "20/20" have a great weekend. the ironman competition comes to the north bay this weekend and the welcome signs are out. next, the economic and
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