Mother, daughter from Virginia killed in Germanwings Flight 9525 crash

Posted at 11:59 AM, Mar 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-25 18:35:00-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Virginia mother and her daughter were killed in Tuesday's Germanwings Flight 9525 in France. Raymond Selke, of Nokesville, told the Washington Post his wife Yvonne and daughter Emily Selke were among the crash victims. Nokesville is in Prince William County, about 100 miles north of Richmond. The Selkes appear to be the only Americans killed on the flight.

Other crash victims

They were high school exchange students, heading home after a week in Spain. Opera singers fresh off a show in Barcelona. An architect from Colombia who'd gone across the Atlantic to work in Africa. An Australian nurse on vacation with her son.

And now they -- and scores of others -- are gone.

While authorities haven't identified any bodies or definitively ruled out a miracle, the presumption is that all 144 passengers and six crew members aboard Tuesday's Germanwings Flight 9525 died when their plane crashed in the French Alps.

That would make them victims, but they were much more than that. They were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. And they came from all around the world -- at least 15 countries, according to Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann.

The precise numbers from each country haven't been pinned down, with the nationalities of some still not accounted for and the possibility that some may hold dual citizenships.

Still, Winkelmann did provide a snapshot on Wednesday, listing Germany (72 people on board) and Spain (35 people) as the countries with the most citizens on the flight. (Francisco Martinez, a top Spanish security official, said a short time later that 49 Spaniards were on the crashed plane.)

The rest are from an assortment of countries. That includes two each from Australia, Argentina, Iran, the United States and Venezuela, according to the Germanwings CEO. Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, Israel, Mexico, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had one passenger apiece, said Winkelmann -- though Britain's Foreign Office has said three British nationals were on board and Colombia's Foreign Ministry said two of its citizens took that flight.

Some of their relatives gathered at Barcelona's airport, where medics and psychologists were available to help them. A chapel was set up near the crash site. Many more mourned in living rooms, churches and elsewhere.

They were left with memories and the sad realization that there would be no future for the scores on that plane.

"We already planned things (that) we were going to do when they returned," said Philippa, who attended the same school in Haltern, Germany, as 16 students and two teachers on Flight 9525. "... It's very hard to believe that we cannot do that."

'Our school has now changed totally'

Given Germanwings' name and its base in Cologne, it's no surprise that so many of the victims -- about half -- are from Germany.

That's especially the case in Haltern, a town about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Dusseldorf. Sixteen students and two young teachers from Joseph-Koenig Gymnasium school had left Haltern eight days ago for Llinars del Valles, a Spanish town about 25 miles northeast of Barcelona.

Headmaster Ulrich Wessel said he and others first hoped the students and teachers had missed their intended flight and taken another one. Then they were told that all 18 had been on the Flight 9525 passenger list.

That fact has"changed totally" everything for Haltern's more than 1,200 students, he added.

"Many students can't really understand what happened. These were their friends," Wessel said. "... I'm speechless."

The students should have been looking forward to the summer and, eventually, to attending university. The teachers -- one of whom had just gotten married -- had their own long lives ahead of them as well.

Their loss has shaken not just Joseph-Koenig Gymnasium, but all of Haltern.

"The whole city is shocked, and we can feel it everywhere," Mayor Bodo Klimpel said. "This is the worst, what happened."

'The lyrical family is in mourning' over loss of singers

"Siegfried" is a classic German opera, created by one of its greats, Richard Wagner. It tells the story of Siegfried, a proud orphan who slays a dragon and finds love with the Earth goddess Erda.

It makes sense, then, that two German singers -- Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner -- would be invited to Barcelona to perform at the city's Gran Teatre del Liceu.

According to the theater's Facebook page, the pair had just performed in "Siegfried" in Barcelona. Bryjak played Alberich, the brother of the dwarf who raised Siegfried. And Radner was Erda.

Both had successful careers and full lives beyond this one production.

In addition to her flourishing career, Radner could look forward to getting home to her husband and child, a production company spokesman said. And many in Dusseldorf's Deutsche Oper am Rhein ensemble were shocked when that opera's artistic director, Stephen Harrison, relayed the news about Bryjak, who had been part of the ensemble since 1996.

"Such a terrible and sudden loss, one doesn't know how to deal with it," admitted Harrison.

Bryjak, a bass baritone, could excel in serious roles but always kept his sense of humor and never failed to be kind and giving to others, he said.

"He was an incredibly warm-hearted and generous artist and friend," said Harrison.

Now, instead of more cheers for both performers, there are tears.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu put its flags at half-staff and held two minutes of silence for the late singers.

"The lyrical family is in mourning," tweeted the theater's artistic director, Christina Scheppelmann, who is herself of German descent. "But we are not alone."

A Colombian architect and a budding economist

Colombia is about 5,000 miles from where Flight 9525 went down. But for two Colombian families, the heartbreak is all too close.

While Winkelmann -- who admitted his information wasn't complete and could change -- said that one Colombian was on board, the South American nation's Foreign Ministry said two of its citizens took that ill-fated flight.

One of them was 36-year-old Luis Eduardo Medrano. The architect leaves behind his parents and two brothers, according to the Fundacion Universitaria de Popayan, where he had studied.

He also leaves a legacy behind in the African nation of Equatorial Guinea, where he'd been working with the engineering company Atland Global, according to an interview he gave his university.

The other Colombian victim is María del Pilar Tejada, a 33-year-old economist.

Tejada lived in Germany, working to earn her doctorate at the University of Cologne, Colombia's Caracol Radio reported. She'd gone to Barcelona to visit her husband.

Australian mother and son vacationing in Europe

Those on the Germanwings flight included people traveling for business and to catch up with friends and loved ones. There were also some who were flying around Europe for fun on vacation.

People like Carol Friday and her son Greig, two Australians believed killed in the crash, according to that country's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Carol Friday, who turned 68 the day before the crash, was a midwife and registered nurse who most recently worked for the city of Casey, near Melbourne, the family said in a statement released through Australia's government. Her 29-year-old son, Greig Friday, "was a loving son to Carol and Dave and an exceptional brother to his sister Alex."

"Our family is in deep disbelief and crippled with sadness," the family said.

Mother of hospitality student: 'He was my world'

By all accounts, things were going well for Paul Andrew Bramley.

The native of the English city of Hull just finished his first year studying hospitality and management at Cesar Ritz Colleges in Switzerland. He'd spent a few days with friends in Barcelona before heading to the airport to return to the United Kingdom via Dusseldorf. And he was about to start an internship next week.

His parents, including his father back in Hull, are now left trying to make sense of what happened.

"Paul was a kind, caring and loving son," said his mother, Carol Bramley, who'd flown from her current home in Majorca to the United Kingdom to meet up with her son. "He was the best son. He was my world."

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