TORONTO - Vahik Khachik's three-year-old son was off to see his grandmother in Armenia for the first time and his wife was going to plan a family party when he waved goodbye to them Wednesday at the airport in Tehran.
But before he even had time to drive home, news that their plane had crashed came over the radio. The Toronto man is now left mourning the family he lost with no word on why the Caspian Airlines jetliner came down just 16 minutes after take-off.
Nana Antashyam, 35, was flying to Armenia with their son Edward so he could meet the rest of his extended family.
Khachik is devastated by the loss and has spent the last day in an emotional haze, said long-time family friend Garbe Andishian.
"He is crying for his wife and kid and we're trying to comfort him," Andishian said from the Khachik residence in Tehran. "The family is in very bad shape."
Relatives from both sides of the family gathered at the home Thursday, waiting for news on the crash investigation and any word on bodies found.
The Khachik family left Canada for Iran in early July to baptize Edward and attend a wedding, said Leonard Rideout, a family friend and tenant of the Khachik's in Toronto.
Antashyam was a classical pianist and piano teacher with the Ontario Conservatory of music, Rideout said.
"She was a very nice lady, a good wife and a good mother, you couldn't ask for better."
Antashyam was planning to arrange her sister's birthday party while in Armenia, and was dropped off at the airport by her husband and brother-in-law, said Rideout. Khachik told him by phone that he heard the tragic news on the car radio after leaving airport, he added.
Andishian described Antashyam as an enthusiastic woman and well-educated woman.
"She was full of life, always looking forward to life," said Andishian, whose voice faltered when he spoke about Edward.
"He was an amazing kid, he was very intelligent," he said. "Some people said he can reach any position in life when he grows up."
Andishian recalls Edward clambering up to a piano and plonking away at the keys as he tried to imitate his mother.
"Edward was learning, copying sometimes. He was a brilliant kid," he said.
"We miss them... It's hard."
The cause of the crash was not yet known. Investigators have recovered two of the three black boxes belonging to the jetliner, which was bound for Yerevan, Armenia.
The chief investigator, Ahmad Majidi, has said the cockpit voice and flight data recorders would likely be sent to the aircraft's Russian manufacturers for analysis.
Most of the passengers were Iranians, many of them from Iran's large ethnic Armenian community, as well as 11 members of Iran's national youth judo team.
Five Armenian citizens were among the dead and Armenia on Thursday announced a one-day national state of mourning to mark the death of its citizens in the crash, according to the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass.
The Tu-154M jet had taken off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport and crashed about 16 minutes after takeoff, near the city of Qazvin, around 120 kilometres northwest of Tehran.