UVic student killed in Iran plane crash remembered at vigil

An informal memorial was held at the University of Victoria on Thursday evening

A gathering of more than 50 people came together at a cafe at the University of Victoria on Thursday evening to remember those who lost their lives in the tragic plane crash on Wednesday in Iran.

Hugs, tears and stories were shared in the small, but packed room for about an hour before breaking into smaller conversations of remembrance.

The death toll includes at least 63 Canadians, 11 British Columbians and one Greater Victoria resident. Roja Omidbakhsh was a first-year student in the bachelor of commerce program, it was her first year in Canada.

First-year University of Victoria student Roja Omidbakhsh has been identified as one of 176 victims of the Tehran air crash. (LinkedIn)

The plane, now believed to have been shot down by an Iranian missile, was carrying 176 people. The people who stood up to share their connection to the tragedy spoke about combing through the list of names, looking for specific people but finding others they knew.

Members of the media were asked to refrain from taking photos or asking for interviews inside the memorial to allow students, friends and community members time to grieve.

Tirdad Shirvani, an Iranian refugee, came to the memorial because he didn’t know what else to do despite not knowing anyone on the flight.

RELATED: How a missile might have shot a plane down in Iran, and what a probe will look for

“What else can I do? [I feel] desperation, sadness, helplessness,” he said outside the memorial. “There isn’t much I can do but come here and mourn.”

Shirvani feels the blame is on Iran, whether it was a missile that brought down the plane or just faulty mechanics. He says the Ukrainian airline is a popular one for students because it’s one of the cheapest options available.

RELATED: Iran believed to have shot down airliner, perhaps by mistake: Trudeau

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the strike that brought the plane down might have been unintentional.

The plane crashed minutes after taking off from Tehran’s airport as it was heading to Kyiv, with 138 passengers scheduled to transfer from Kyiv to Toronto.

RELATED: ‘People are in shock’: Victoria prof. says Iran plane crash will reverberate across Canada

The crash came after a week of soaring tensions in the Middle East, occurring just hours after Iran launched missile attacks on bases in Iraq where American and allied troops are stationed. Iran said the attacks were retaliation for the American killing of Maj.-Gen. Qassem Suleimani near Baghdad.

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of an Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

MP Laurel Collins, who was also in attendance, said she chose to be there to show support to the UVic and Iranian community, along with the family and loved ones of all those who were lost in the plane crash.

“Right now is a time to grieve and to be here for the people who are grieving,” she said. “In the coming days, I think the families deserve answers. We want a really thorough and transparent investigation.”

According to Collins she, along with other members of parliament, will be focused on getting answers for families, along with deescalating the situation with the Middle East.

“We do not want to be lead into a U.S. lead war,” she says.

According to an initial Iranian investigative report released Thursday, Flight PS752, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, was on fire and attempting to get back to the Tehran airport when it crashed after reaching nearly 8,000 feet of altitude. The report says the flight crew never made a radio call for help.

— With files from The Canadian and Associated Press



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Witset chosen for housing innovation funding program

Proposal to build healing lodge for at-risk youth one of four selected in B.C.

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and hereditary chiefs agree to future meeting

Scott Fraser was in Smithers on Jan. 22 and spoke with Office of the Wet’suwet’en representatives

Unist’ot’en Camp say RCMP have changed 27 kilometre roadblock rules

Footage shows RCMP telling an unidentified lawyer they can’t re-enter the checkpoint

B.C. Indigenous communities receive funding for hands-on trades training

Nuxalk, Witset, Penticton Indian Band, TRU Williams Lake, and Camosun College among beneficiaries

Telkwa bridge struck by empty logging truck

The truck hit the bridge on its east side and appears to have damaged a wooden beam

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Kobe Bryant killed in California helicopter crash: reports

NBA star was reportedly in his private helicopter at the time of the crash

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Most Read