University mourns students and alumnus killed in plane crash

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

It's with deep sadness, the University of Waterloo confirms that two of its students are among the people who died in the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 in Iran last night. 

Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan was a doctoral student in geography and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani was a PhD student in civil engineering.

“Everyone at Waterloo is shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Mari Foroutan and Mansour Esfahani,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “Our hearts ache for them, their friends and family with whom we all mourn together. Mari and Mansour were part of a close-knit community of researchers here in Waterloo who will need our care and support.

"We are united with the Canadian academic community and all Canadian-Iranians in grieving the loss of Mari and Mansour and the loss of so many other students and researchers from across Canada. As we grieve, we will support the family, friends and co-workers of those who have died and keep them in our thoughts at this most difficult of times.”

Esfahani, 29, had gone home to Iran to get married and was returning to campus to finish his doctoral research into construction automation and management. Hanieh, his new wife of less than a week,  planned to join him in Waterloo in February.

Professors and friends describe Esfahani as "a great young man" with a "pleasant demeanor."


“Mansour was a sweet, capable, enthusiastic guy who was very well liked amongst his fellow students,” said Carl Haas, chair of Waterloo’s civil and environmental engineering department, and Esfahani's doctoral supervisor. “His research on adaptive reuse projects in the circular economy will have long-lasting impact.”

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani was a doctoral student in civil engineering.

Esfahani was always eager to teach others, said a friend who had him as a teaching assistant in 2018 in a Facebook post.

“To help however he can, that was his attitude whenever I interacted with him,” Michelle Liu said. “He was always patient, empathetic, and happy to listen ... Mansour will be missed by many, and his kindness and contributions will not be forgotten.”

The University also mourns the loss of an alumnus, her husband, a former post-doctoral fellow, and their two young daughters.

Mojgan Daneshmand (PhD '06, Electrical) was a member of Professor Raafat Mansour’s research group from 2002 to 2006 as a graduate student and later as a post-doctoral fellow for two years. She was the recipient of two NSERC scholarships as a PhD student and as a post-doctoral fellow. She joined the University of Alberta as a faculty member in 2008 and was the Canada Research Chair Tier II in Radio Frequency (RF) Microsystems for Communication and Sensing. 

Daneshmand's husband, Pedram Moussavi, was a post-doctoral fellow in Waterloo's electrical and computer engineering department with Professor Safieddin Safavi-Naeini’s research group and worked in local industry. He joined the University of Alberta as a faculty member in 2009.

The couple's two daughters, Daria and Dorina, also died in the plane crash.

If you are grieving or need any support, there are people who can help you. Please contact any of the following resources:

Counselling Services - 519-888-4567;32655
UW MATES (Mentor Assistance Through Education and Support)
Here 24/7 - 1-844-437-3247
Health Services - Student Medical Clinic - 519-888-4096
Grand River Hospital - 519-749-4300
St. Mary's Hospital - 519-744-3311
Good2Talk - 1-866-925-5454
Crisis Services Canada - 1-833-456-4566 or by text 45645 
Employee and Family Assistance Provider (Homewood Health) - 1-800-663-1142
Occupational Health - Linda Brogden at ext. 36264 or Karen Parkinson at ext. 30338