A passenger aboard the Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday after an engines exploded recently shared what got her through the terrifying ordeal.
Amanda Bourman had just drifted off to sleep when she was awakened by falling oxygen masks and an ice-cold wind rushing through the cabin. The plane’s left engine had exploded, sending shrapnel straight through one of the aircraft’s windows and causing the cabin to rapidly de-pressurize.
“I just had a really sick feeling in my stomach, my stomach was all in knots — you right away think that you’re not going to survive when an engine goes out,” the mother-of-three from Queens, New York, told PEOPLE.
As many burst into tears and screams, thinking these were their last moments, Amanda knew there was only one thing she could do: pray.
“The plane started going back and forth as the pilot was trying to gain control of the plane again. I put my mask on and my husband and I right away grabbed on to each other and started praying,” she said.
“We asked God to be with the pilot to land us safely,” Bourman added, “and to send angels to watch over us.”
Amanda realized the peril she was in and immediately reached for her credit card to purchase an internet connection — it was the only way she could contact her family as the plane hurtled to the ground.
“We texted my father-in-law and told them that we loved them, and that Jesus loved them, just in case they never saw us again,” she said.
The pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, quickly put the aircraft into a steep descent and made preparations for an emergency landing in Philadelphia.
“Right when we were about to land, the stewardess kept shouting, ‘Brace for impact! Brace for impact!’” Bourman explained. “We crouched down in the seat in front of us and held on. We didn’t know what to expect, but other than coming in a little quickly, the landing felt normal and everybody cheered because we were safe.”
— Joe Marcus (@joeasaprap) April 17, 2018
Tragically, 43-year-old passenger Jennifer Riordan was killed after being partially sucked out of the plane through the broken window. Riordan’s devastated husband Michael, and their two young children, described the Wells Fargo banking executive as “the bedrock of our family”.
“Jennifer’s vibrancy, passion and love infused our community and reached across our country,” the family wrote in a statement. “Her impact on everything and everyone she touched can never be fully measured. She and [her husband] Mike wrote a love story unlike any other. Her beauty and love is evident through her children.”
The statement concluded, “In her memory — please remember to always be kind, loving, caring, and sharing.”