PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A firefighter who was on board the Southwest flight broke down describing the moment a piece of the engine broke off. He left his wife and children in one part of the plane to try to save the life of the woman partially sucked out a window.
Firefighter Andrew Needum visibly emotional, asks for someone to pray for him.
"We give all the glory to God just being here right now. The ability to speak before y'all, God put me in the position for a reason," Needum said.
The Texas firefighter spoke today about the Southwest flight from New York headed to Dallas when the pilot had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after the engine failed. He recalls hearing a pop and the oxygen masks deployed.
"Flight attendants were in the aisle the row behind me and I believe they had a started to ask for drink orders when the pop happened and the engine failed," Needum stated.
Needum was traveling with his wife Stephanie, their two children and his parents Julie and Tommy.
They all secured their masks but then Needum heard a noise in the back of the plane and felt he had to go.
"What took place back I'm going to leave out of respect for her family. I'm going to leave that alone, but I never was in fear of my life. I'm sure my family could speak otherwise, but I'm trained for emergency situations and that's just exactly what it was," Needum explained.
Jennifer Riordan, 43-years-old, was nearly sucked out of a broken window. Passengers reportedly pulled her back in as Needum tried to save her. She died later from her injuries.
"She had two kids and a loving husband and a community around her that loved her. So, my heart is broken for them and I just pray comfort and they find healing," Needum said.
Needum's wife, also in tears, said she never feared for her family.
She was worried about a woman sitting near them, alone, with her baby girl and Riordan, who needed help.
"I just knew at that moment that someone else needed him much more than we did and that's what his calling is. Is to help and that's what he did," Stephanie said.