Brampton couple remembers 6 family members killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash
A Brampton couple says their six family members were about to experience “the trip of a lifetime” in Kenya before they were tragically killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.
“They thought that the March Break period was going to be the perfect time for them to go over there, have fun … It was going to be a great trip for everybody,” Manant Vaidya told Global News on Monday.
Manant’s father, 73-year-old Pannagesh Vaidya; his mother, 67-year-old Hansini Vaidya; his sister, 37-year-old Kosha Vaidya; her 45-year-old husband, Prerit Dixit; and their children, 14-year-old Ashka Dixit and 13-year-old Anushka Dixit, died when the Ethiopian Airlines jetliner crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. All 157 passengers and crew on board were killed. There were 18 Canadians on board.
Manant said he last saw his family Saturday morning when he dropped them off at Toronto Pearson International Airport for their 10 a.m. flight overseas.
“The news came at night. The phone rang 15 or 20 times. When we woke up at 7, Papa’s friend — he gave us the news (and asked) if we have any news what happened on the flight so we were not sure. We went to the airport to confirm the news, and they have the list of the family members,” Hiral Vaidya, Manant’s wife, said.
WATCH: Catherine McDonald speaks with a Brampton couple whose family were killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash
“It’s really hard to believe, first of all, that this happened. It’s hard to recover for us right now because we lost six members, and they were all very, very close to us. For us, it feels like my mom is coming downstairs.”
Manant said his sister wanted to visit her birthplace and his father wanted to go on the trip in order to visit a friend in Nairobi. He also said they hoped to go on a safari.
“It was once in a lifetime,” he said while describing the trip.
“In his life, [Pannagesh] wanted to go one more time so there was no reason for me to tell him no because it was his wish (to do) that before he goes away. He wanted to go once (in) his life.”
Manant said Prerit worked two jobs in the medical field, seven days a week. He said Kosha worked in the human resources department with the Canadian Hearing Society.
Hiral described Ashka and Anushka’s love of the arts. She said Anushka enjoyed dancing and described Ashka as a talented singer.
“Her voice is really brilliant. She’s a really good singer … it’s an angel’s voice. Whenever we get together, we ask her to sing a song,” she said.
The Peel District School Board said in a condolence message that Anushka went to Centennial Senior Public School and Ashka went to Chinguacousy Secondary School
Manant said he hopes officials get to the bottom of what happened so a similar crash doesn’t happen.
“I’m not angry because accidents… when accidents happen, we never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Sometimes, I do feel that if I would have insisted and said to them strongly, ‘No, maybe go for Mexico or go for Caribbean islands or go for a European trip. That might have been a better option rather than going to Kenya,” he said.
“I was talking earlier that my brother-in-law, he always actually does good homework of what his flights are going to look like … how many accidents has happened on the flight, and based on that, he’s going to book his trip,” Manant added.
“So he did his homework. As you know, the flight he boarded was a brand-new flight. It was just four months old and it was a new Boeing so it was really an unfortunate incident that this happened.”
Manant and Hiral said they are currently speaking with consular officials overseas and waiting for more information on their family’s remains. Manant said he might have to travel to Ethiopia, adding they hope to get their loved ones’ ashes so they can perform a religious ceremony.
“I sincerely hope this is the last accident to happen and nobody suffers as we do,” he said.
“It’s a huge tragedy … she is the only sister I got. I lost my parents, I lost my sister, I don’t have anybody else.”
Meanwhile, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said in a message on Twitter that the flags at city hall will remain at half-mast until further notice in honour of the family.
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