Until today, Southwest Airlines never had an accident-related fatality of a passenger. This was the first passenger fatality in an accident involving a U.S. airline since 2009, said US National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt.
Emergency workers were using a defibrillator to help a woman who was taken off the plane after landing, said one of the passengers, Amanda Bourman. It is believed that she is the one who died.
The last time a passenger died in an accident on a U.S. airliner was 2009, when 49 people on board and one on the ground were killed in the crash of a Continental Express plane near Buffalo, New York.
Amanda said she also saw a man in a cowboy hat rush to cover the broken window when it was blown out in flight and that after landing his arm was bandaged. Seven people altogether were treated for minor injuries. There were 149 people onboard the plane that safely landed in Philadelphia.
The Southwest Boeing 737 from New York to Dallas blew an engine at around 30,000 feet and the fuselage was struck by shrapnel which smashed one of the windows.
A team of investigators from NTSB has been sent to the city, where they will take the engine apart to understand what happened and will look at its maintenance records. Investigators have already said one of the engine’s fan blades broke off during the flight, apparently because of metal fatigue.