Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Andrei Anghel, from Ajax, Ont., was on downed flight
24-year old University of Waterloo graduate was believed to be the lone Canadian on fatal flight
Andrei Anghel, a 24-year-old from Ajax, Ont., was on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, which crashed Thursday in Eastern Ukraine, CBC News has confirmed.
Anghel was one of 298 people on board the plane. He is believed to be the lone Canadian on board.
The Ukrainian government said the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down.
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The government in Kyiv and pro-Russia separatists fighting in Ukraine's eastern region both denied being responsible for bringing down the plane.
Alexandra Anghel, Andrei's 26-year-old sister who also goes by Lexi, told CBC News that both she and her brother were born in Romania, and the family moved to the Ajax area in 1998.
Alexandra, who lives in Edmonton but returned to Ontario after learning of her brother's death, described him as always happy, smart and "destined for big things." She said she doesn't harbour anger towards the person or group who may be responsible for the crash because it won't bring her brother back.
Anghel graduated with a degree in biomedical science from the University of Waterloo in 2012.
He was taking classes at Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, the second most populous city in Romania.
He was en route to Bali, Indonesia, to celebrate finishing the second year of medical school. He was with his girlfriend, a German woman identified by his sister as Olga. They had been dating a year and had planned to go hiking.
Anghel went to Ajax High School from 2004-08 and worked in a local McDonald's and Wal-Mart in Ajax.
He volunteered at a seniors' residence, worked as a research assistant and presented a paper on the differences in medical treatment between men and women.
"I believe there is much we can learn from the simplest forms of life," he wrote on his LinkedIn profile. "I plan to learn and bring new knowledge to the world."
Premier, Ajax community react
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish offered his condolences on Friday.
"Andrei grew up in Ajax and was studying abroad in Romania to become a doctor," he said. "We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the Anghel family, who still live in Ajax, and all those affected by this senseless act."
In a speech on Friday, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander paid tribute to Anghel, who lived in the Greater Toronto Area riding that the Conservative MP currently represents.
Alexander said he spoke with Anghel's family on Friday morning to offer his condolences on behalf of the federal government.
"Our hearts go out to you," the minister said at the news conference.
"We condemn, all of us, such an act of terror against perfectly innocent civilians," Alexander said.
He also issued a stern message to Russia for its military involvement in Eastern Ukraine.
"We continue to condemn, as a government and I think as a people, the acts that Russia continues to perpetrate in Ukraine with their illegal occupation of Crimea and continuing support for conflict and separatist forces in Ukraine."
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said it was "so sad to hear Andrei Anghel from Ajax was on the Malaysian flight. Our thoughts are with his family during this tragic time of sorrow."
'A very keen student'
At Anghel's alma mater, University of Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur said, “The entire University of Waterloo community is shocked and saddened by the tragic passing of Andrei Anghel. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family members and friends at this extremely difficult time. This deplorable act has rocked the world’s scientific and research community. Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of all of those who died in this tragic event.”
Brian Dixon, who is with the university’s department of biology, says Anghel was a student in his immunology class during the winter of 2012.
“Andrei was a very keen student. He sat in the second row, he always had his hand up, he was always asking questions,” said Dixon. “He came to my office for extra help. He asked a lot of questions, a lot of questions that were outside the course material. He was very interested in cancer and human disease in general.”
Dixon says Anghel dreamed of entering medical school, but getting accepted was not easy.
“There was a point where he didn’t think he was going to get in,” said Dixon. “He emailed me and talked about how he was going to take a job out west and take a year off and think about his life.”
Dixon says he wrote Anghel a letter of recommendation as part of the student's application to Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Romania. Anghel later emailed Dixon to tell him he had been accepted.
“When I found out it was him on the plane, I was saddened that after all that build up and all that work and getting his dream, it was taken away from him,” said Dixon.