Co-pilot of fatal Southwest flight has ties to Central Texas

Bastrop County

The co-pilot who helped land Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 in Philadelphia after an engine blew has ties to Central Texas. Family of the co-pilot, Darren Ellisor live near Bastrop.  

On Twitter Ellisor’s brother wrote, “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. 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.” 

The jet blew an engine at 32,000 feet and got hit by shrapnel that smashed a window. Jennifer Riordan of New Mexico was sitting near the window when she was partially pulled from the plane before other passengers pulled her back in. Riordan died a short time later.

After landing the plane with 149 people aboard, passengers praised the flight team who got them safely on the ground.  

“He would say ‘okay, you can call me a hero, but there were many heroes on that airplane.’ We all know about Tammie Joe and her great heritage of a fighter pilot and she was the leader, she was the pilot, if anyone was a hero she was,” said Ellisor’s father Earl Ellisor. “He says the flight attendants, they were in the back of the plane and the plane was in a steep dive and they are heroes too for the way they acted and the way they had to service. And he also thought the passengers were heroes. He said they not only handled the injured lady as best they could trying to rescue her, trying to revive her, even as the plane was descending, they were working on her.”

Ellisor’s parents say he wanted to fly planes since he was young. “It was the ninth grade when he said, ‘I want to go to the academy and we were like okay, we’ll see about that,” said Ellisor’s mother Kathleen. “He set his sights to go to the air force academy and he did it.”

On Wednesday, Southwest Airlines released a statement from the captain and first officer. “As Captain and First Officer of the Crew of five who worked to serve our customers aboard Flight 1380 yesterday, we all feel we were simply doing our jobs. Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss. We joined our Company today in focused work and interviews and we ask that the public and the media respect our focus,” wrote Captain Tammie Jo Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor.  

Ellisor’s family says even with 148 passengers praising the pilots, they’re struggling with the loss of one. 

“That’s really removed any exhilaration of having passed through a tragedy. You can’t feel exhilaration if someone didn’t pass through it with you, if you had to leave someone behind,”said Earl Ellisor. 

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