'She was a really good friend': UVic student killed in Iran crash remembered
VICTORIA -- A University of Victoria student who was killed when her plane crashed in Iran this week was remembered at the school Thursday.
Roja Omidbakhsh was one of 176 people – 57 of them Canadians – who died when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed shortly after takeoff near Tehran on Tuesday.
Nasim Hadadi said she first met Omidbakhsh, 23, last September. The young women, along with another friend, Mobina Rafiepour, shared student residences at the University of Victoria.
All three were from Tehran, but they met in Victoria after using the same immigration lawyer to arrange visas to come to UVic, according to Rafiepour.
Omidbakhsh went to Iran to be with her family during Christmas, Hadadi said.
Hadadi said her roommate was booked on the Ukrainian Airlines flight from Tehran and was supposed to return to Victoria on Wednesday.
Omidbakhsh was described by Hadadi as being “really cool.”
“She always tried to help us, and comforted her friends when they were going through hard times.”
Speaking to CTV News Vancouver Island on Saturday, Rafiepour said Omidbakhsh was booked on the doomed flight because she wanted to stay with family in Iran a bit longer than her roommates.
Rafiepour said she has spent the days since the crash wondering about what could have been and wishing things had gone differently.
"I wish that it was all just a big lie and she would come back some day," she said.
The University of Victoria said Omidbakhsh was registered in the Gustavson School of Business and was in Prof. Mark Colgate's commerce class for her first term.
“Roja was very positive and had a keen interest in marketing. She was on the pathway to complete a bachelor of commerce,” Colgate said in a statement released by the school. “We're heartbroken that this happened and our condolences go to her family and classmates.”
Rafiepour said she was initially reluctant to do interviews about her deceased friend, but changed her mind because she wants to keep Omidbakhsh's memory alive.
"I want something to last from Roja, because not many people knew Roja in Victoria," Rafiepour said. "She was new to Canada."
Asked what she wants people to know about her friend, Rafiepour said if there were more people like Omidbakhsh, the world would be a better place.
"She was a really good friend," Rafiepour said. "I know that she had friends in Iran that they had been together since primary school. She kept her friends really tightly and she was a really good friend."
- With files from The Canadian Press