Woman killed on Southwest flight grew up in Vermont

COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) The woman killed when a plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia grew up in Vermont.

Jennifer (Guerin) Riordan at Colchester High School graduation 1992. Courtesy: Elizabeth Benson

Jennifer Riordan, 43, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was killed and seven other passengers were injured when the Southwest Airlines plane blew an engine at 30,000 feet Tuesday. Passengers said Riordan was partially sucked out of the window after the plane was hit by engine debris. The plane from New York to Dallas landed in Philadelphia.

Friends tell WCAX News that Jennifer Riordan, then Jennifer Guerin, attended Christ the King and was a 1992 graduate of Colchester High School. She earned an associate's degree from Champlain College in 1994.

She married her high school sweetheart, Michael Riordan, who went to Vermont Technical College. They were married at Christ the King. The couple moved to Albuquerque to pursue their careers.

Friends described Jennifer Riordan as a very special woman. They say she was happy, bubbly, kind and sweet. She was voted "Most Talkative" in high school. They said people who knew her are in shock and she will be greatly missed.

Her family called Riordan the "bedrock of our family" and asked those mourning her passing to "be kind, caring and sharing" in her honor.

Royale Da has reaction from New Mexico, where Riordan made her home after she left Vermont.

"It's just a tragic, tragic loss for everybody," John Traub said.

Friends and family of Riordan are hurting, thinking of an incredible person with a huge smile. A woman who loved New Mexico.

They say to know her was to know how one person can make such a big difference.

"Jennifer is somebody who embodied everything that is good, not just in our community but about being a human being," Traub said.

Traub is the minor league baseball manager. He's known Riordan for more than 15 years.

"She was the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect friend," he said.

She was married to former city COO Michael Riordan. The couple has two children, a fourth-grader and a sixth-grader.

"Her family is everything to her," Traub said. "I can't even imagine what the family is going through."

Professionally, Jennifer Riordan was the VP of community relations for Wells Fargo. She was a dedicated community volunteer, sitting on various boards. At one point, she worked at UNM Hospital.

"She was just full of life; she had an energy when you would see her," said Paula Maes of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.

Maes says Riordan went to UNM, was in the journalism program there and even got a scholarship from the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.

"She was a remarkable mother, a remarkable wife, a remarkable addition to our community," Maes said.

The news of her passing stunned the community.

"It's still pretty numb," Traub said.

So many are left wondering how such a bright soul could be gone-- killed in a bizarre plane accident.

The investigation into what led up to the engine's failure is still ongoing. The NTSB said one of the engine's fan blades broke off from the hub during the flight and debris broke a passenger window.