El Paso

'I think it was assumed that we were not going to make it.' El Pasoan on SWA flight recounts ordeal

Deadly flight

An El Paso professor was among those on a Southwest Airlines flight when the plane's engine exploded midair Tuesday.

Jesus Cisneros was on his way to Dallas from an educational research conference in New York City when the explosion occurred. About an hour into the flight, Cisneros tells ABC-7 he felt the plane take a dip. 

"I not only heard it, but we also felt it because the plane dipped a little bit and we definitely felt the loss of control for a brief second. It definitely jerked the plane around and shortly after, the oxygen masks came down so that's when we knew that something was up," Cisneros said.

Cisneros says for the next couple of minutes, he heard passengers scream as air flowed into the plane. ABC News reports Jennifer Riordan of New Mexico died after she was partially sucked out a window near the engine.

"When that happened, a couple of passengers in that surrounding area got out of their seats to help the passenger pull her back in so she didn't get completely sucked out. While that was happening, of course we were losing a little bit of height altitude and the individuals and the flight crew was trying to help individuals put on their masks and maintain calm" Cisneros said. 

Cisneros says he immediately thought of communicating with his family if the plane crashed. 

"I was thinking about what I was going to do if and when we hit because I think it was assumed that we were not going to make it. And that there was going to be an impact based on the way in which the plane maneuvered and dipped," Cisneros said.

Cisneros says passengers attempted to pull the woman back in, but it was too late. 

"There were a couple of medical practitioners that stepped up to assist with CPR and whatever else was needed but it seemed to not work. To a certain extent, she saved our life because when the window was breached and the air was coming into the plane, the plane depressurized. So that was a lot of air that was coming in. Her body blocking the window helped the rest of us stay alive and it helped with the navigation of the plane" Cisneros said. 

He tells ABC-7 it took about 15 to 20 minutes for the plane safely land. The plane was forced to land at Philadelphia International Airport Tuesday. Cisneros credits the pilot and crew for helping land the plane safely. 

"I don't think I'm discouraged from flying, I think it was an incident that was abnormal. I've flown many times before and nothing like that has happened. But I think that seeing how professional the flight crew was and realizing that my life was in the hands of the pilot--and the pilot did such an amazing job of helping us get to the ground given the multiple issues that were happening simultaneously. I definitely feel like I can fly again, I definitely feel like I can trust the company and the organization. I don't feel discouraged from flying," Cisneros said. 

Seven people suffered minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board said 144 passengers and five crew members were on board. 

"Even though the majority of us were able to get home and get to the ground, there was someone that lost their life and it's very unfortunate. It's very sad that that had to happen for the individual and the family affected. As someone that was on that flight, I am saddened by this and I hope other people keep them in their thoughts and prayers," Cisneros said. 


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