Germanwings Crash: American Mother, Daughter Who Died Remembered for Dedication to Christian Faith, Family

( [email protected] ) Mar 27, 2015 06:02 PM EDT
Germanwings Crash Victim Emily Selke
Emily attended Woodbridge Senior High School and was a 2013 honors graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia, where she majored in music industry. (Xela Batchelder /AP)

A Christian mother and daughter from Virginia who were among the 150 killed on a Germanwings flight have been remembered by grieving friends and family as "wonderful people" who were active members of their local church.

Yvonne Selke and her daughter, Emily, were two of the three Americans who died on March  24 when an Airbus jet plunged into a frozen ridge in the French Alps en route from Spain to Germany.

"Our entire family is deeply saddened by the losses of Yvonne and Emily Selke, two wonderful, caring, amazing people who meant so much to so many," read a statement released from the family. "At this difficult time we respectfully ask for privacy and your prayers."

According to Father Michael J. Bazan, pastor of Sacred Heart, where Yvonne and Emily were members, both women were deeply committed to their church and their Christian faith.

"We are lifting up countless prayers on behalf of the Selke family," he recently told the AFP.

A parishioner of Sacred Heart since 1993, Yvonne was a volunteer in the faith formation program as well as in the parish library. According to Kathleen Burr, director of faith formation at Sacred Heart, children from the parish memorized prayers, and Yvonne would listen as they recited them.

"She was a kind and gentle woman," Burr said. "They both were wonderful people. They were always here, always wanted to help."

Yvonne also worked in conjunction with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a satellite mapping office at the Pentagon, for 25 years. She was described by co-workers as kind and a diligent worker who often brought cookies to share with her fellow staffers.

Emily attended Woodbridge Senior High School and was a 2013 honors graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia, where she majored in music industry and served as vice president of the school's Zeta chapter of the Gamma Sigma Sigma sorority.

She sang in the Sacred Heart children's choir when she was young and was a "lovely, bright girl," said E.J. Cochran, music director.

"Zeta is deeply mourning the loss of (a) friend and alumna," said Alyse Weaver, president of the Zeta chapter. A message on the sorority's Facebook page said Emily "embodied the spirit of Gamma Sigma Sigma. As a person and friend, Emily always put others before herself and cared deeply for all those in her life."

According to recent media reports,  Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who deliberately crashed the plane, suffered from depression, which he hid from his employers.  Lubitz's flight training was interrupted due to a "severe depressive episode'" six years ago, which required psychiatric treatment for a year and a half, and his doctor reportedly declared him "unfit for work."

Other victims of the crash included two babies, two opera singers, a pair of Iranian journalists, an Australian mother and her adult son vacationing together, and 16 German 10th-graders and their teachers returning from an exchange trip.

Speaking on Tuesday, U.S. President Obama said the crash was "particularly heartbreaking" because many of the plane's passengers were very young.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends in Europe, especially the people of Germany and Spain," Obama said. "It's particularly heartbreaking because it apparently includes the loss of so many children," he added.