UTM student dies in tragic Ukraine Airlines crash in Iran


Published January 9, 2020 at 5:53 pm


A promising University of Toronto–Mississauga (UTM) student who has been called an “accomplished young leader, mentor and phenomenal friend” was identified as one of the victims of the tragic Ukrainian International Airlines crash that took place in Shahedshahr, just southwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran. 

Zeynab Asadi Lari, who was studying science at UTM, was one of 176 people and 63 Canadians killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed on Jan. 8. 

Her brother, Mohammed Asadi Lari, was also killed in the crash. 

Both Iranian-born siblings were involved in UTM’s Stem Fellowship, a student-run, non-profit organization that engages future STEM leaders and innovators in data science and scientific communication.

“It is with incredible sadness that we share the news that Mohammad Asadi Lari, STEM Fellowship’s co-founder and former managing director, and his sister Zeynab Asadi Lari, who created STEM Fellowship’s Human Resources team, passed away yesterday,” the fellowship wrote in a statement posted to Facebook on Jan. 9. 

According to Lari’s Facebook page, she began studying at UTM in 2018. Prior to that, she studied at the University of British Columbia from 2016 to 2018. She also attended Alpha Secondary School in Burnaby, BC. 

The siblings were two of the six U of T students who perished in the crash. 

“We have learned, with profound sorrow, that several U of T students were among the 176 people killed in the crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 in Tehran, Iran,” U of T President Meric Gertler said in a statement.

“On behalf of the entire University of Toronto community, I want to say how deeply saddened we are, and how concerned we are for the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We are continuing to gather information, and taking care to respect the privacy and wishes of all involved.”

Other U of T students killed in the crash include Mojtaba Abbasnezhad, Mohammad Amin Beiruti, Mohammad Amin Jebelli and Mohammad Saleheh. 

The university said that flags at U of T’s three campuses will be flown at half-mast as the university unites in mourning the victims and offers sympathy and condolences to their families and friends.

“Many members of our university – and many across the GTA and Canada – have been directly affected by this tragedy,” Gertler said. “We are all heartbroken.”

Members of the STEM Fellowship are mourning the loss. 

“We are in shock and are gutted by the unfortunate news,” a STEM Fellowship spokesperson told insauga.com. 

“Zeynab was someone who I worked really close with and was able to see the bright and kind soul she was. Zeynab will be remembered as an accomplished young leader, mentor and most importantly, a phenomenal friend.” 

The spokesperson went on to say that Zeynab was known by many as a strong leader in mental health advocacy, STEM education, and for her passion for healthcare. 

“She was a dedicated student leader. As for her brother, I personally did not know him but of course Zeynab would mention him and his aspirations and how it kept her motivated. They both were bright lights in this community and it is unfortunate that we lost such great people.”

In a Jan. 8 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the Canadian victims included families, parents, couples, newlyweds, students, and children. 

“While no words will ease your pain, I want you to know that an entire country is with you. We share your grief,” he told reporters.

The cause of the crash has not yet been determined, but U.S. officials believe the plane could have been shot down by accident by an Iranian missile

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