SAN DIEGO -- Friends, family and classmates are honoring the memory of a student who was among the 176 people killed when a Ukrainian airliner was shot down in Iran earlier this month.
A memorial service will be held Tuesday at Alliant International University to commemorate the life of 23-year-old Sara Saadat.
Saadat her mother and 21-year-old sister Saba were killed when the Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down by Iranian forces after leaving Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8. Iranian officials confirmed its defense forces had shot down the plane accidentally amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.
FOX 5 sat down with a close friend of Saadat's who learned of her death over social media.
"I just really lost it," said Kash Izadseta. "I know how much she loved her sister and her mother and her family. They all loved each other."
Saadat was a first-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Alliant International University. She was a graduate of the University of Alberta.
"They're gone from this planet in a blink of an eye in a very tragic way," said Izadseta. "We're sorry that this had to be the end for all of you beautiful people. But just know that we are a global community. We are one. And we stand behind them. ... They'll forever be in our hearts."
"We extend our deepest sympathies to family and friends of Alliant student Sara Saadat," university officials said in a statement after learning of her death aboard the flight. "It appears that Sarah was visiting family in Iran and was on her way back to San Diego to begin our spring 2020 term in our PsyD in Clinical Psychology program. We know that the entire Alliant community is affected when tragedy strikes any one of us, and we are here to provide support during these trying times."
The university had on-site counselors available for students when spring classes resumed.
Saadat, her mother and sister were all Iranian-Canadians who lived in Edmonton, Alberta, and were among 63 Canadians who died when the plane was brought down.