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Who Is Darren Ellisor? Co-Pilot During Fatal Southwest Flight With Engine Failure Identified

The first officer on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which suffered engine failure and had to make an emergency landing on Tuesday, has been identified.

U.S. Air Force veteran Darren Ellisor was the co-pilot on the flight from New York to Dallas when a piece of the engine broke off and forced a premature landing in Philadelphia, his family members confirmed. Both Ellisor’s brother Lance and father, Earl, told Newsweek that the man was in the cockpit at the time of the incident. They declined to speak further about their pilot relative.

The damage to the plane—a fan breaking off inside the jet engine—caused a crack in one of the windows, through which a passenger was partially pulled, though others were able to bring her back into the aircraft. However, the passenger later died. The National Transportation Safety Board has since reported “metal fatigue” as a contributing factor in the incident.

The plane was a Boeing 737-700.

Southwest previously reported that on the flight were five crew members and 143 passengers. The airlines has since confirmed that 144 passengers were on board. The passenger who was killed during the flight has been identified as Albuquerque resident Jennifer Riordan.

“We are in the process of gathering more information,” Southwest said in a statement after the incident. “Safety is always our top priority at Southwest Airlines, and we are working diligently to support our customers and crews at this time.”

The lead pilot on the flight was already identified as Tammie Jo Shults, a woman who was one of the U.S. Navy’s first female fighter pilots. But her first officer remained a mystery for a little while longer, despite a photo circulating of him on social media.

On Wednesday, Lance Ellisor tweeted a tribute to his pilot brother.

“I’d just like to point out that the hero pilot Tammie Jo Shults was assisted by her First Officer, and my brother, Darren Ellisor,” he said. “I’m glad he’s safe, and that almost all the lives were saved. I am sad for the woman who didn’t make it.”

After the engine failure, oxygen masks dropped down for the passengers, and the plane quickly decreased in altitude.

“Flight attendants ran over calling for passengers to help cover the hole as they broke down and began uncontrollably crying and looking horrified as they looked outside,” passenger Marty Martinez said about the scene. “Plane dropped dramatically and it smelled like fire with ash coming down on everyone thru the vents. Absolutely terrifying, but we are okay.”

SOURCE: Newsweek