Winnipeggers on Ukrainian flight that crashed in Iran
WINNIPEG -- A scientist who was an alumna of the University of Manitoba, a family of three, and a graduate student in biomedical engineering were among a number of victims from Winnipeg who were on the plane that crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran Wednesday morning.
A solemn gathering for students was held at the University of Manitoba campus Wednesday afternoon, involving members of the university’s Iranian Student Association, which told CTV News it was aware of eight people with connections to Winnipeg who were on board the plane.
(Source: Touria Izri)
The students put up a memorial with photos of victims of the crash, including Amirhossein Ghorbani Bahabadi, who was studying at the International College of Manitoba, was on board the flight.
His friends told CTV News Winnipeg he had recently travelled from Winnipeg to Iran. Ghorbani Bahabadi was studying science and was planning to become a medical doctor. His friend, Arman Ahmadi said he’s sad his friend will no longer be able to pursue his passion.
Amirhossein Ghorbani Bahabadi, who was studying at the International College of Manitoba, was on board the plane.
GRADUATE STUDENT AMONG VICTIMS
A member of the board with the student association told the Canadian Press his friend Amirhossien Ghasemi, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, was among those on the plane.
"I saw him before he left the country," said Amir Shirzadi.
Shirzadi said Ghasemi was visiting family in Iran and heading back to Winnipeg at the time of the crash.
"I can't use past tense. I think he's coming back. We play again. We talk again. It's too difficult to use past tense, too difficult. No one can believe it."
(Touria Izri/CTV News)
FAMILY RETURNING FROM HOLIDAY IN CRASH
A family of three, Mehdi Sadeghi, his wife Bahareh Hajesfandiari and their daughter Anisa Sadeghi, was also among the victims from Winnipeg.
A neighbour of the family, Behnam Soltani, told CTV News the three had travelled to Iran for the first time in four years, to visit their family over the holidays.
"They were a really nice family, a caring family," Soltani told CTV News. "Not just me, everybody who know them – they are in shock. We can't even believe it."
He said the saddest part was that the trio had said goodbye to family members less than 20 minutes before the plane went down.
Soltani said he had lived next to the family for around four or five years, and was close with them. He described them as active members of the Iranian community in Winnipeg.
He said Mehdi Sadeghi had worked for Habitat for Humanity. He was working at Fresh Projects Builders at the time of the crash.
In a statement to CTV News, Janice Froese, president of Fresh Projects Builders, said Mahdi was “an amazing co-worker and friend” that had worked there since 2017.
“We at FRESH Projects will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have known him and his family. It is with heavy hearts that we will remember his warm smile and genuine caring personality.”
Froese said Bahareh has also worked there for a time and will “truly be missed,” extending condolences for all who died in the crash.
“We hold all the family and friends of the victims close in our thoughts as we go through this difficult time together,” Froese said.
Soltani said a memorial for the family is in the works for this weekend.
Bahareh is being remembered by her co-workers as an excellent and accomplished engineer and a very kind person. Bahareh was working as a project administrator at a development and construction company called Marwest Group of Companies.
"She was very, very sweet, one of the kindest people you will ever meet," said Armin W. Martens, a principal at the company. "She made connections to everybody that she met, even though she was quiet."
He said her death has hit her co-workers, many of whom had become friends with her, very hard.
"She's an amazing human being," said Martens. "This is a sad event, but people should know how great she is."
MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS OFFERED SUPPORT
A spokesperson for the Pembina Trails School Division said two of its students, who attended different schools within the division, were also listed as being on board.
A letter was sent home to parents of students at Henry G. Izatt Middle School, indicating the name of a grade 5 student was on the passenger list.
“Relatives of the student have shared that they have begun the mourning process,” said the letter, adding the division’s student services team would be offering support.
SCIENTIST REMEMBERED AS 'ONE OF THE BEST'
Scientist Forough Khadem, who graduated from the U of M with a PhD in 2016, was a passenger on the flight.
Khadem worked in Winnipeg for Mitacs, a non-profit research organization that collaborates with academic institutions.
Forough Khadem, who graduated from the U of M with a PhD in 2016, was a passenger on the flight. (Source: lindau-nobel.org, with courtesy to Forough Khadem)
A statement from Eric Bosco, chief business development officer for Mitacs, said the organization is “deeply saddened” by the news.
He said Khadem had worked as a business development specialist with Mitacs since May of 2016 and she was “a passionate supporter of innovation in Manitoba.”
“We will remember Forough’s passion for Mitacs, enthusiasm for innovation in Manitoba, and her positive outlook on life. We will miss her humour, her kindness, and her warm spirit,” said Bosco.
An immunologist who knew her described her on Twitter as “one of the best human beings” he knew.
Another two graduates of the University of Manitoba, who were most recently living in Alberta, have been confirmed as being among the crash victims.
Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, who were with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering, both graduated with PhDs from the U of M in 2001. They were on the flight with their daughters, Darya and Darina Mousavi.
A MOTHER AND SON
CTV News Winnipeg confirmed that mother and son Farzaneh Naderi and Noojan Sadr were on the plane.
Naderi worked as a full-time staff at St. Amant, a resource for Manitobans with developmental disabilities and autism. In a statement, St. Amant described Naderi as a “dedicated autism tutor” who had a “big heart” and “genuinely cared about the children she supported, their families and her colleagues.”
Mother and son Farzaneh Naderi and Noojan Sadr, who are pictured in this image, were on the flight. (Source: Amir Shirzadi)
Crash leaves U of M shocked
President of the University of Manitoba, David Barnard, said it has been hard having this tragedy hit so close to home and it has rocked the school.
"For many of us, it's a feeling of something that was formerly at a distance, not a good thing, a bad thing for sure, but distant from us, all of a sudden it's now part of us. I think the shock of that is a difficult thing for each of us to cope with," said Barnard.
"These are, as you say, students and some folks who have worked at the university in various capacities and it's just difficult to reconcile where we were yesterday with where we are today, as we think of those members of our community."
Barnard said in the coming days the school will be looking at ways to help those at the university deal with this tragedy and move forward from the incident.
Sixty-three Canadians were on board Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, which was destined for Kyiv when it went down minutes after take-off.
Winnipeg's mayor and Manitoba's premier have both shared condolences for victims of the crash.
-With files from CTV's Touria Izri, CTV's Danton Unger and The Canadian Press