As It Happens

Toronto woman killed in Iran plane crash was 'a lovely person all around,' says friend 

A few weeks ago, when Hamid Mehr and Shadi Jamshidi were planning their trips back to Toronto from Tehran, they laughed about Jamshidi picking the cheapest possible flight.

Shadi Jamshidi, a Canadian permanent resident from Iran, was among the 176 people killed 

Toronto resident Shadi Jamshidi was a passenger on the Ukrainian International Airlines plane that crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran's main airport Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. (Submitted by Hamid Mehr)


A few months ago, Hamid Mehr and Shadi Jamshidi were planning their trips back to Toronto from Tehran and laughing about Jamshidi picking the cheapest possible flight.

While Mehr opted for a more expensive flight later this week with a detour in Europe, his close friend Jamshidi booked a Jan. 8 seat on Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752.

That flight crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran's main airport Wednesday, bursting into flames and killing all 176 people onboard. 

"I even joked about that she was a cheap person and she was looking for cheap flights, and we laughed about it. Now that's not a joke anymore," Mehr told As It Happens host Carol Off.

'The sort of person that would cheer you up'

Jamshidi, 32, a technical sales consultant in Mississauga, Ont., was a permanent resident in Canada working toward citizenship, Mehr said. Before moving to Toronto, she attended the University of Calgary. She was in Tehran visiting her father, he said. 

"She was my dear friend. I've known her for three years. The more I knew her the more I came to like her," Mehr said. 

"She was a lovely person all around, the sort of person you would like to be around, the sort of person that would cheer you up and who would be always there for you. It's so hard to think that such a person is gone ... I can't understand this."

Hamid Mehr, left, with his friend of Shadi Jamshidi, one of the victims of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight that crashed in Iran on Wednesday. (Submitted by Hamid Mehr)

Mehr lives in Toronto, but is in Tehran visiting his sick mother. He said he first learned about the crash while scrolling Twitter for information about Wednesday's Iranian ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.

"At first I didn't believe this," he said. "Then after they released the names and I saw her name on that list, I realized what a travesty has happened that she is not with us anymore."

He says he's since been in touch with Jamshidi's boyfriend in Toronto. When they spoke on the phone, he says he could hear Jamshidi's brother weeping in the background. 

"I was already very emotional throughout my journey and because of my sick mom, so all this news of war and my friend's death, it has only exasperated my emotions," Mehr said.

No direct flights

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that 138 of the 176 victims were heading for Canada. At least 63 Canadians were killed in the crash.

"Today, I assure all Canadians that their safety and security is our top priority. We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens," Trudeau said. 

Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012. There are no direct flights between Canada and Iran, so passengers must use connecting flights. 

"Why [do] Canadians have to go through Ukraine to come to Canada? Why didn't we have a direct flight from Iran?" Mehr said.

"[There is a] huge diaspora of Iranians in Toronto and other Canadian cities. Why did we have to rely on foreign airlines? That's my question."

The crash came hours after the Iranian missile launch, but Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the 3½-year-old Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Ukrainian officials initially concurred, but later backed away and declined to offer a cause. 

Boeing built the aircraft that crashed Wednesday in 2016. It last underwent routine maintenance on Monday, Ukraine International Airlines said.

Mehr says it ultimately isn't important what brought the plane down.

"It doesn't matter anymore. She's perished and she's not coming back," he said. 

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from The Associated Press and CBC News. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. 


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