Air France crash leaves global trail of victims

Mass Casualties Posted on

Three young Irish doctors — one a Riverdance performer — returning from a vacation to Brazil. An American geologist and his wife headed to Europe for work and some R&R. An 11-year-old boy traveling alone on his way back to an English boarding school.


All were among the victims of Air France Flight 447, leaving broken hearts from Rio to Paris and far beyond.

"We will miss your dancing feet," read a tribute from the Northern Ireland family of Eithne Walls, 29, the dancer-turned-doctor. "We will miss your silliness, your wit and your hugs. We will always hold you in our hearts and you are never truly gone."

John Butler initially thought his 26-year-old daughter, Aisling Butler, was booked on a different flight and had to retrieve her itinerary from his deleted e-mail folder to check.

"When I opened it up, a nightmare opened up as well," he said, speaking from the family's home in rural County Tipperary.

Walls, Butler and their best friend from Ireland's Trinity College, 28-year-old Jane Deasy — the daughter of a Dublin surgeon — graduated together from medical school in 2007 and had spent two weeks in Brazil as part of a larger group of Trinity grads.

While others traveled on to Australia, the trio headed home to resume their busy medical careers.

"Her friends will, we hope, remember their special time together with fondness and joy, despite its tragic end," read the tribute to Walls, who spent nearly a decade dancing in Riverdance troupes from New York to Shanghai and was pursuing a career as a Dublin eye surgeon.

Some families recalled how their loved ones had survived dangerous jobs or medical crises, only to perish in Monday's unexplained crash over the Atlantic Ocean, which was presumed to have killed all 228 on board.

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