From a lush suburban valley near bustling Barcelona, three generations of a well-heeled family set off last week for a fun trip to Manchester, England: 12-year-old Emma Solera Pardo, her mother Emma Pardo Vidal, and grandmother Emma Vidal Bardan.
They were on their way to pick up the youngest Emma’s teen brother as he finished a semester abroad to hone his English, do some sightseeing and then head home together.
But the Germanwings flight 9525 taking them to Duesseldorf for a connecting flight to Britain slammed into the French Alps. Prosecutors say co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit and aimed the aircraft down in an eight-minute descent until it hit the ground and disintegrated.
Juan Pardo Yanez, little Emma’s grandfather, the father of her mother and the former husband of the eldest Emma, was virtually speechless after returning from a trip for relatives of the 150 crash victims to the accident zone in Seyne-Les- Alpes, France, where investigators working in a ravine were collecting small pieces of the plane and body parts ahead of a painstaking identification effort.
“There is nothing that can be done or could be said to me to change the loss of these three so dearly loved ones,” Pardo Yanez told The Associated Press and other journalists outside a Barcelona crisis center set up for victims’ relatives.
About 400 friends and relatives of the daughter, mother and grandmother gathered for a private Mass at a monastery in Sant Cugat del Valles, choking up as they went inside to commemorate those lost from the family that moved to the community of about 85,000 about a decade ago.
The youngest Emma’s father, Juan Ignacio Solera, is the founder and chief executive of iVOOX, a company that makes a popular software application for podcast downloads.
Emma went to a Catholic school just a five-minute walk away from the family’s apartment in a cluster of buildings ringed by high brick walls. Her death hit classmates incredibly hard, said principal Maria Reina Montoro, who could only come up with one word to describe how they felt: “Destroyed.”
While somewhat quiet and timid, the youngest Emma was a dedicated tennis player who regularly practised at a club, said Manu Navas, director of the club’s tennis academy. Emma’s mother also played paddle tennis there.
“She wasn’t a player who stood out, but what I would highlight about her was her attitude. She never took no for an answer,” Navas said of the girl.
Pardo Yanez didn’t say how he would try to help rebuild his life and family now that his ex-wife is gone along with one of his daughters and a granddaughter. But he was sure of one thing: “I will return with all my children to the site where all of them have died.”