(Reuters) - A former U.S. Army captain from Illinois, a father-to-be from California and a truck driver from Minnesota were among at least eight Americans killed in Sunday’s crash of a Boeing 737 MAX jetliner in Ethiopia in which 157 people died.
“The U.S. citizen victims were largely people who either lived in Africa or were there to work and contribute to the development of the continent,” a State Department spokesperson said, declining to provide further details.
The following profiles some of the victims:
Antoine Lewis, 39, of Matteson, Illinois, a U.S. Army captain, was married with a 15-year-old son. Stationed in Ottawa, Canada, Lewis had gone to Ethiopia to do missionary work on a vacation. He was considering moving to Africa when he retired from the military, his mother told Chicago TV station WLS.
Mucaad Hussein Abdullah, 31, of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, had been in Morocco with his wife, whom he recently married, and was traveling to Nairobi before planning to return to the United States, the Saint Cloud Times reported. He had lived in Saint Cloud since 2006 and had graduated from high school there in 2008. He was working as a truck driver, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said.
Melvin Riffel, 30, of Redding, California, had been traveling with his brother Bennett and his wife Brittney, who is expecting their first child in May. His wife had already returned to California, the Record Searchlight newspaper reported.
Bennett Riffel, 26, was traveling with his elder brother Melvin on their “last adventure together” before “Mel” was to become a father, Redding Chamber of Commerce president Jake Mangas told the Record Searchlight.
Matthew Vecere, a disaster relief volunteer, environmental and civil rights campaigner and avid surfer, was traveling to attend the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, according to a statement by his mother, Donna Vecere. He grew up in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, and lived in California, she said. Vecere worked for IQAir, according to a tweet by the air filtering technology company.
“Matt was a great writer and an avid surfer with a passion for helping others,” IQAir said.
Reporting by Andrew Hay and Eric Beech; editing by Cynthia Osterman