People with ties to Alberta were among the 176 who were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed after takeoff near Tehran, Iran.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that intelligence from multiple sources indicates that an Iranian missile downed the flight, though it might have been unintentional.
Here is a look at some of the victims linked to Alberta:
Arshia Arbabbahrami, 19, was a Grade 12 student at Calgary’s Western Canada High School.
The school’s principal, Carma Cornea, said Arbabbahrami was involved in track and field and the school’s swimming and diving team.
“He dreamt of being a doctor and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to,” Cornea said in a statment.
“Arshia was returning to Canada after spending the holidays with his family in Iran.”
Amir Hossein Saeedinia was a PhD student in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Alberta. He was studying the composition of ceramic-metal materials that could be used to make better coatings for the oil and gas industry.
His death was confirmed by the university Thursday.
James Hogan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, said Saeedinia had a big smile and was a natural leader.
“He had a strong mind for science,” said Hogan, Saeedinia’s co-supervisor. “I would get him to help me when other students would come into the group because I trusted his opinion that much.”
Kasra Saati travelled to Iran over the holidays for a reunion with his wife and two children, said friend Nina Saeidpour.
“He was such a smart, social person and of course he was a family guy.”
Saeidpour said Saati boarded the plane to return to Calgary, while his wife, Mehsam, infant daughter and son, who is 10 or 11, stayed behind. Mehsam was in Iran during her maternity leave so that her family could help out with the new baby, Saeidpour said.
She said friends frantically went through the flight manifest when they got word of the crash. Saati’s name was on it, but not the rest of his family. Eventually Saeidpour was able to connect with Mehsam, who was in shock and surrounded by friends and family.
“It’s just so sad that people come here to have a better life for themselves and their families, and then something like this happens,” said Saeidpour. “Suddenly, they leave behind a beautiful young family.”
Angela Murray, a spokeswoman for Viking Air Ltd. said Saati worked at the company’s aircraft assembly facility from early 2018 until December 2019. His LinkedIn profile says he was a quality engineer.
“His loss is deeply felt by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him,” said Murray.
Pedram Mousavi, Mojgan Daneshmand, Daria Mousavi and Dorina Mousavi
Payman Paseyan, a member of the Iranian-Canadian community in Edmonton, said his friend Pedram Mousavi, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta, died along with his wife Mojgan Daneshmand, also an engineering prof, and their daughters Daria Mousavi and Dorina Mousavi.
“They had two young girls with them. I can’t imagine what was going through their mind,” said Paseyan.
Hossein Saghlatoon, who did his PhD and post-doctorate studies under Mousavi, said he has known the family for about six years.
“I was crying my eyes out,” he said. “It’s not just that I was working with them or that he was my boss. He was a friend. He was like a father to me.”
Saghlatoon said it took him several hours to confirm the information before he told his colleagues one by one.
“Both of them were amazing, sweet people. They were so kind, irreplaceable,” he said.
Sina Ghaemi, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta, knew Mousavi for about six years. Their offices were next door to each other.
“He was a really fun person and always laughing,” Ghaemi said. “He was a very happy person.”
Ghaemi said Mousavi worked on antennas and had published many highly cited papers in the field.
“He was very prolific.”
Ghaemi said it was a sombre morning in the department.
“Everyone is in shock. Things are quiet and people look sad. The whole faculty’s kind of in shock.”
Shekoufeh Choupannejad, Saba Saadat and Sara Saadat
Shayesteh Majdnia, a past president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, said she was close friends with Shekoufeh Choupannejad, a gynecologist who died along with her two daughters Saba Saadat and Sara Saadat.
Majdnia said she had spoken to Choupannejad’s husband, who is still in Iran, for confirmation. She said Choupannejad also leaves behind a son who was not on the trip with the family.
“She was the kindest person I had ever met,” Majdnia said of Choupannejad.
She said Choupannejad was always there for community fundraisers, and often did her best to help take appointments with new immigrants who were overwhelmed and unable to find immediate medical help.
Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji
Students from the University of Alberta said their friends, Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji, were returning to Edmonton after getting married in Iran a week earlier.
Amir Forouzandeh and Amir Samani, who are both doing their master’s in computer science, said they were in the same program with the couple.
“I wasn’t able to go back, but they had their wedding on Jan. 1 and they were planning to come back on the 8th, and, of course, we all know what happened,” said Forouzandeh.
He said they were the kindest people he knew.
“Since Day 1 that I got to know them and hang out with them, it was a blast,” he said. “We got along so easily and pretty much within a week or two we just were hanging out every other day.”
Both Samani and Forouzandeh said the two were looking forward to the wedding when they left.
“They were super excited,” said Forouzandeh. “A lot of people came from all over the world to be at their wedding.”
Samani added that he can’t believe what happened.
“I’m a big denier right now,” he said, noting he kept checking his phone to see if Arash was online.
Nasim Rahmanifar, a master’s student in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, was nervous about her first winter in Edmonton.
“She was so excited to go back … she planned to surprise her mom,” her friend Sina Esfandiarpour told Edmonton media at a news conference.
He said he received a text from Rahmanifar from the airport that she was on her way back and she wasn’t looking forward to the cold weather.
“She was afraid,” said Esfandiarpour. “She just came in May and she said, ‘They told me it was just freezing cold.’
“She is never going to see that.”
Ramin Fathian, Rahmanifar’s officemate, said she was really worried about the weather in Edmonton.
“She was asking me all the time, ‘What is the best jacket?’” he recalled. “We were saying it’s not that bad. You will get used to it.”
One of her supervisors, Prof. Hossein Rouhani, said Rahmanifar was a highly motivated, hard-working student who had recently earned a scholarship.
“She was an outstanding student,” said Rouhani, who added Rahmanifar planned to complete a PhD when she returned to Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2020
The Canadian Press