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Medical student from Ajax killed in Malaysian plane crash

A 24-year-old medical student from Ajax was the Canadian on the Malaysia Airlines plane that was downed over Ukraine.

Andrei Anghel had just finished his second year of medical school in Romania and was en route to Bali with his girlfriend, Olga, to celebrate.

Andrei’s sister Alexandra told CityNews she spoke with her brother just before he boarded the flight.

“He was at the airport and he was so excited to go and they had been planning it for so long,” said Alexandra.

Anghel’s mother begged her son to delay his trip by a few days so he could fully recover from a flu he was getting over. But she says he insisted he take the trip because he and his girlfriend had already booked flights and hotels.

Alexandra said her brother was a cheerful and ambitious man.

“He was just really happy. He loved life and he loved everything about it. He wanted to change the world and that’s why he wanted to be a doctor,” said his sister.

In her last conversation with her brother, Alexandra urged him to take care and wished him well.

“Please be safe, kiddo. I love you,” were her last words to her brother before he hung up to board his flight.

The airline has said at least one Canadian was among the 298 people killed after a surface-to-air missile brought down the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight Thursday over Ukraine.

Before going to Romania to continue his studies, Anghel graduated with a bachelor of science from the University of Waterloo.

Anghel completed secondary studies at Ajax High School and previously worked as a laboratory assistant at the Canadian Phycological Culture Centre, which provides research quality cultures to educational institutions, government and commercial laboratories worldwide, according to his LinkedIn page.

“I am passionately interested in the science of living things, always questioning. Why do cells strive for life? What defines life?” Anghel wrote on the website.

“I believe there is much we can learn from the simplest forms of life. I plan to learn and bring new knowledge to the world.”

Anghel also volunteered at a retirement home in Waterloo, Ont., according to a resume he posted to his personal website.

The victims of the downed flight include a large contingent of scientists heading to an AIDS conference in Australia.

University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur released a statement offering condolences to Anghel’s family and the wider scientific community.

“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,” said Hamdullahpur.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has issued a statement expressing shock and sadness about the destruction of the plane and said Canada is willing to assist authorities in determining the cause of the crash.

At least 189 of the victims were from the Netherlands. Passengers on the plane also included 29 Malaysians, 28 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine Britons, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos and one person each from Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong, according to the airlines and those governments. Two passengers’ nationalities remained to be confirmed.

The Ukrainian government in Kyiv, the separatist pro-Russia rebels they are fighting and the Russian government that Ukraine accuses of supporting the rebels all denied shooting the plane down. Moscow also denies backing the rebels.

With files from The Canadian Press