The Poignant Last Hours of MH17's Victims

Family, friends remember loved ones who perished

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 23, 2014 7:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – The first victims' bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are today making their way to the Netherlands, where they'll be met at Eindhoven Air Base by the nation's king, queen, prime minister, and their own relatives, reports the AP. As forensic experts begin the task of identifying victims, the AP takes a haunting look at some of their last days and hours. These are their stories:

  • An 11-year-old plagued by thoughts of death couldn’t stop hugging his mom the night before he boarded Flight 17. Ahead of his trip to visit his grandmother in Bali with his brother, Miguel Panduwinata kept asking his mother questions like: “How would you choose to die? What would happen to my body if I was buried? Would I not feel anything because our souls go back to God?"

  • A poignant kiss at the airport was the last contact an Indonesian woman had with her Dutch fiance. Christine had met 53-year-old Willem Grootscholten last year in Indonesia and they quickly clicked. Her two kids had started to call him "daddy" and they all ate long-distance meals together via Skype. Right before he boarded Flight 17, he told Christine he "wanted to spend the rest of his life beside her."
  • An Australian couple who made an annual monthlong trip with friends almost backed out of this year’s vacation, but their schedule changed and they opted back in—with a return flight on MH17 (the couple they traveled with booked a different flight). Friends of Albert and Maree Rizk asked them if they were spooked flying the airline after Flight 370 disappeared. Albert’s response: "Lightning never strikes twice."
The full AP story about Flight 17’s victims is here.

Christine holds a portrait of her fiance, Willem Grootscholten of the Netherlands, who was a passenger of the crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Christine holds a portrait of her fiance, Willem Grootscholten of the Netherlands, who was a passenger of the crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.   (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
Miguel Panduwinata, right, poses with his mother Samira Calehr. Miguel and brother Shaka Panduwinata were killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Miguel Panduwinata, right, poses with his mother Samira Calehr. Miguel and brother Shaka Panduwinata were killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.   (AP Photo/The Calehr family)
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