Husband of woman killed on Southwest flight remembers their last conversation

Michael Riordan's wife Jennifer was killed on Southwest Flight 1380 after an engine failed 32,000 feet above the ground on April 17.
7:54 | 04/26/18

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Transcript for Husband of woman killed on Southwest flight remembers their last conversation
Here's ABC's Martha Raddatz. What's peace to feel me is that morning at 8:00 in the morning, I'd just gotten the kids off to school, she gave me a call. We went through what the evening was when she was going to get home that night. Then it was "I love you, travel safe." And -- and -- and love was in our heart. And my final words to her, "I love you, travel safe." Reporter: In that moment, what Michael Reardon couldn't pope possibly know is that would be the last conversation he would have with his wife Jennifer. I just fell in love at first sight. Jennifer 15, I was 15. You really did grow up together. We were just babies. Reporter: Their nearly 30-year love story came to a devastating end last week. When Jennifer was killed during a midair disaster on a southwest airlines flight. Jennifer was an Albuquerque banking executive, seen here in this video for Wells Fargo. We all should strive to reach that type of behavior always. The legacy that I want to leave in our community are four things. I want to be remembered for being kind, loving, caring, and sharing. Ethical behavior is absolutely critical for New Mexico. Reporter: She was on her way home from New York to her husband and their kids, 12-year-old daughter Avery, and 10-year-old son Josh. Jennifer was one of 144 passengers and five crew members on board southwest flight 1380. Long flights, I always sit in the window. Reporter: Holly Mackay boarded the plane early. I had initially taken the window seat. Then I'd had a really large cup of coffee and thought, I'm going to be inconveniencing everybody because I'm going to need to get out multiple types. Reporter: Southwest doesn't assign seats, so passengers can choose. Mackay moved to the aisle. 14c. A 12-year-old girl sat in the middle. And in that window seat, 14a -- That's the seat where Jennifer Riordan ended up sitting? Yeah. She had a very warm smile. I wish I had talked with her more. Reporter: Flight 1380 left New York's Laguardia at 10:43 A.M. At 11:04, the plane hit cruising altitude, 32,000 feet. Four minutes later, the left engine exploded. The number one engine failure. Reporter: Radar shows the track as the plane is diverted to Philadelphia. We've got injured passengers. Injured passengers, okay. They said there's a hole and someone went out. I'm sorry, you said there was a hole and somebody went out? Yeah. Everybody breathe, relax! Reporter: The window where Reardon was sitting shattered. The air pressure sucked the 43-year-old mother of two partway out the window. From about her ribcage was out the window. Her seat belt was fastened, thankfully, very tight and low. And it was holding her. Reporter: Mackay says she and the 12-year-old girl tried to pull Jennifer back in. Even as they could feel the air suction pulling them toward the busted window. But they weren't strong enough. I did think that we were probably next. To get pulled out of the plane. So I wrapped around the girl and I pulled her over to me so she was farther from the window. And I put my hand on Jennifer's back. So then if she was conscious or could feel anything, she would at least know that we were there. Which I thought -- if I ever -- if I ever have a conversation with her family, I would want to be able to tell them that she wasn't alone. Somebody screamed. We realized what had happened when the window went out. Reporter: As the plane descended, two other passengers, Tim McGinty and firefighter Andrew Needham, managed to pull Jennifer inside and start cpr. I'm no different than any other firefighter in this country. For some reason, whatever reason that is, it was me that day. Reporter: The plane landed just before 11:30 in Philadelphia. Reardon was pronounced dead at the hospital. God put us all on that plane for a reason. Don't know why. Reporter: Back in Albuquerque, Michael Reardon was at lunch with a friend when his phone rang. The chaplain at the hospital called and said, are you married to Jennifer Riordan? And I said yes. I need to have the doctor talk to you. Before the doctor could call, I was able to click on a news site and saw one passenger was brought to the hospital. Like, okay. If the whole plane didn't crash, she can't be injured that bad, she's just in the hospital, I can get out there and hold her hand and love on her. It can't be bad, it just can't be bad. Two minutes later I got a call from the doctor saying, we're sorry, we tried everything we could, but she couldn't make it. How you tell your kids, your mom's gone. Tell me how you dealt with that, no parent is ever prepared for that. I held their hands, we took a knee. I said, mommy's not going to come home, guys. But we're going to live out the rest of our life with mommy in our hearts. And in the way that she wanted us to be. Reporter: Investigators now saying a broken fan blade caused the engine to rip apart in midair. So think about a piece of metal or a piece of plastic where if you bend it back and forth enough, it eventually cracks. That's what's happening to these blades. They're being used so much that, for some reason, which engineers are going to have to find out, they're cracking in ways that they should never crack. Reporter: Within days, the FAA ordered emergency inspections of fan blades on similar engines. This is a real science to be able to look at as metal gets older, as machines get older, to be able to predict where fatigue will next cause a problem. Reporter: To get inspections done, southwest airlines has been canceling dozens of flights every day this week, the airline saying, we will continue our work to minimize flight disruptions by performing necks overnight while aircraft are not flying and utilizing spare aircraft when available. Southwest airlines said it began proactively performing ultrasonic inspection of all fan blades last November and voluntarily started inspecting their entire 737 fleet before the FAA's order. The NTSB investigation into flight 1380 will take months. Everybody breathe, relax! Reporter: For now, Michael Reardon says he's just thankful to the people who were there with his wife in her final moments. I received the names of the people that were sitting nearest to her. Knowing they were showing the kindness and care that they were. It's going to be a difficult conversation and I'm not ready have to have it, but I just want them to know that. Reporter: On Sunday, thousands gathered with the family, not to mourn, but to celebrate Jennifer's life. Why's everybody so quiet? This is a celebration. The only time in the last week that I've had that -- that I felt that peace. It was just uplifting. And I just really embodied her so much. At the end of the night it was so perfect for Jennifer. Like she was looking over us with a check box saying, yes, that's what I wanted to check. Reporter: Michael says it's the couple's children, Avery and Josh, who keep him going every day. And you had the kids up there, that was important to you. Absolutely. They were hesitant but it meant the world to me. I told them they are my rocks now. When I look at those two sets of eyes, that's what gets me through the next minute, the next hour, and the days ahead. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm Martha Raddatz. Our hearts go out to Michael and his family. You should know that some 60 airlines worldwide are now racing to check older engines for signs of metal fatigue over the next few weeks.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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