Kaylene Mann was still mourning the loss of her brother, who was a passenger on the lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, when she learned of a nearly incomprehensible twist of fate.
The Australian woman learned on Friday that her step-daughter was aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over the skies of Ukraine.
Mann’s brother Rod Burrows and sister-in-law Mary Burrows were traveling on flight MH370 when it disappeared in March. On Thursday Mann’s step-daughter, Maree Rizk, was among the 297 people killed on MH17 when it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
“It’s just brought everyone, everything back,” said Greg Burrows, Mann’s brother. “It’s just… ripped our guts again.”
Maree Rizk and her husband were returning to Australia after spending four weeks in Europe, said Phil Lithgow, president of the Sunbury Football Club, where the couple was heavily involved.
“They were very lovely people,” Lithgow said. “You wouldn’t hear a bad word about them – very generous with their time in the community, very community-minded, and just really very entertaining people to be with.”
The Sunbury football team plans to wear black armbands in tribute and will observe a moment of silence before their game on Saturday, Lithgow said.
Kaylene Mann’s story of tragedy is not the only strange connection between MH370 and MH17. Sanjid Singh, a steward at Malaysia Airlines, swapped flights to fly on M17. Just 131 days before, Singh’s wife had switched out of flight MH370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Singh’s grieving father, Jijar Singh, said his son was planning on visiting family.
“He was last here about a month ago,” Jijar said. “He told us recently that he swapped with a colleague for the return Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight. He always called us before he leaves for his trip. He was supposed to come here at noon after he returns from Amsterdam this morning. His mother had prepared all his favourite dishes.”
Even though Kaylene Mann lost her brother on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and her daughter on MH17, Burrows said the family doesn’t hold anything against the airline, saying “this was out of their hands.”