'Passionate, motivated' student booked seat on doomed flight after late visa forced change of plans
‘The world is not going to be the same without her, for me,’ says friend of Delaram Dadashnejad, 26
This is part of a series on the B.C. victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which crashed near Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board.
Delaram Dadashnejad was headed back to her studies at Langara College in Vancouver on Jan. 8 after spending time with family in Tehran.
The 26-year-old video-chatted with a friend moments before boarding Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, and showed him a bracelet she planned to buy for his wife's birthday.
Those last few seconds with Dadashnejad last Wednesday keep playing out in Sia Ahmadi's mind.
He was scheduled to pick his friend up at the airport, but she never made it. Ahmadi said he has not slept since learning her plane crashed shortly after takeoff, in a ball of fire, killing all 176 people on board.
"It's unbelievable. I don't know how to cope with it," Ahmadi told CBC News in an almost inaudible voice.
Within a day of the crash, Ahmadi, like other Canadians, learned that the Boeing 737-800 was believed to have been shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.
Iran, which was on high alert Wednesday after Tehran fired missiles at U.S. troops in Iraq, later confirmed that the flight had in fact been unintentionally hit by missile fire.
This hit Ahmadi and others grieving the horrible crash even harder, all while images of the charred debris field near the Imam Khomeini Airport continued to spread online.
One of those images showed a B.C. identification card with Dadashnejad's' name on it.
Ahmadi said his friend was wary of flying, given the rising tensions in Iran.
He also said Dadashnejad should not have been on the doomed flight.
Dadashnejad only booked her seat on Flight 752 after her student visa arrived too late, so she had to cancel her original flight home with Lufthansa on Dec. 17. She decided to stay until January to spend more time with family.
When Ahmadi awoke to news of a crash, he said his stomach sank.
"It was horrible. I couldn't believe it. Everybody just called me and I couldn't pick up. It's one of the most tragic things in my life," he said.
Ahmadi and his wife spent a lot of time with Dadashnejad, and planned to fly to Mexico to celebrate her upcoming birthday on Jan. 31. He said Dadashnejad earned an undergraduate degree in science studying genetics in Tehran, where she grew up.
He said her family had often visited Vancouver on vacation when she was younger, so, as an adult, she returned to the city, the ocean and seawall she loved in order to study to become a dietitian. She'd been working at St. Paul's Hospital for a stint learning about food preparation for patients.
Ahmadi said she was close to her sister, who studied business at Simon Fraser University.
"She was a real loving person. Really passionate. Really motivated to do her best," he said.
"The world is not going to be the same without her, for me."
Other friends share Ahmadi's feelings. Mahraz Parvand said it remains difficult to believe her vibrant friend is gone.
"She was hard not to notice," said Parvand.