A student at a San Diego university was among those killed when a Ukrainian airliner carrying nearly 180 people crashed in Iran this week — a tragedy that U.S. intelligence officials believe was caused by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, according to KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego.
Sara Saadat, originally from Canada, was studying to become a clinical psychologist at Alliant International University in Scripps Ranch, the school said.
She was returning from a visit with family in Iran when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed near the Iranian capital Tehran. Her sister and mom also died in the crash, officials said.
Saadat had just completed her first semester with 49 classmates and would have stayed with that same small group until graduation, said Amber Eckert, the school’s vice president of student services.
“In a doctoral program, they’re there for four years, and so those students develop very close relationships with one another,” Eckert said. “We’re still processing through the shock of the news, and really our focus is on how we can support our students and our community.”
The university also extended its "deepest sympathies" to Saadat's loved ones in a statement.
"We know that the entire Alliant community is affected when tragedy strikes any one of us, and we are here to provide support during these trying times," the school said.
Alliant is a for-profit college with six campuses across California, with San Diego being the main one. The school said it will have support counselors available at the Scripps Ranch campus when spring classes resume next week.
On Thursday, officials in the U.S., Canada and Britain said their intelligence indicated it was "highly likely" the plane was unintentionally shot down by an Iranian missile late Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board.
The incident came hours after Iranian missile strikes on two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, a retaliation for America's killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
On Friday, however, Iran denied allegations it was responsible for the plane crash and asked Western leaders to share their evidence.