Jeremy Brooks never got to live out his dream as a fly-fishing guide in northwestern Russia.
The 22-year-old had an opportunity to work with the Ponoi River Company in Russia, family friend Ivan Valdez told CNN Monday.
Brooks was identified as the only American who died as Aeroflot flight SU 1492 crash-landed and caught fire at a Moscow airport on Sunday.
At least 41 people on the Russian passenger jet were killed, including two children. A total of 78 people were aboard the stricken flight, including five crew members. Thirty-seven people survived, five of whom are currently receiving treatment in hospital, said Elena Markovskaya, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, a top law-enforcement agency.
Initial reports said the Superjet 100 was flying from Moscow to Murmansk, a Russian city in the Arctic circle, when an emergency on board forced it to turn back.
Ivan Valdez, acting as a spokesman on behalf of Brooks’ family, told CNN Monday that the US Embassy had confirmed that Brooks was one of the crash victims. Brooks worked at Valdez’s fly shop and guide service, The Reel Life, based in Santa Fe.
“Jeremy was the kindest soul you will ever meet,” Valdez told CNN. “He was always such a positive individual, always had everyone’s best interests at heart. Jeremy’s biggest passions were his family, friends and fishing. Jeremy just had the biggest heart in the world, the world’s lost a great individual. He was like a son to me.”
Valdez said he hired Brooks as a teenager after discovering the young man’s skills at fly fishing.
“Jeremy has been going into Reel Life since he was a little kid, I always saw his potential,” Valdez said. “When he turned 16, I pursued him and hired him. Not many people can say that about a kid.”
Brooks had been a student at Santa Fe Preparatory School. He went on to study environmental science at Colorado College, according to CNN affiliate KOAT-TV.
Santa Fe Prep School head Jim Leonard said Brooks led people on fly-fishing expeditions.
“Jeremy had uncanny intelligence and genuine warmth across all dimensions: with his peers as a student at Prep, with the (sometimes much) older people he guided on fly-fishing expeditions, with younger students he tutored in Breakthrough Santa Fe, and even with the adults at Prep fortunate enough to work with him in the classroom,” Leonard said. “He was wise beyond his years.”