Baltimore-area native killed in Sunday crash of Cypriot jet

IND graduate, 25, was a member of the crew of Helios Airlines plane

August 17, 2005|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,SUN STAFF

A 25-year-old Baltimore-area native and graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame was among those killed when a Cypriot plane crashed into a mountainside north of Athens Sunday, family members said yesterday.

Meropi "Popi" Sofocleous had been a crew member aboard Helios Airlines flight ZU522, a spokeswoman from the Cyprus Embassy in Washington confirmed.

The flight, which departed from Larnaca, a city in southern Cyprus, was bound for Prague, Czech Republic, after a stop in Athens.

All 115 passengers and six crew members were killed in the crash.

A 1998 graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame, Sofocleous moved to Pennsylvania with her family after high school, according to her cousin, Alexia Farantos of Perry Hall.

Sofocleous spent summers traveling between the United States and Cyprus, where she often stayed with her grandparents before she moved there about two years ago, Farantos said.

"She was a young, beautiful girl who wanted to experience a different country," her cousin said. "She loved Cyprus. She had relatives and good friends there."

Another cousin, Leo Kapetanakos, 25, of Parkville, described Sofocleous as a free spirit who moved to Cyprus without hesitation.

"She just loved it there - loved the atmosphere and the culture," Kapetanakos said. "That's where she always wanted to be."

He said that his cousin had just begun working at the airline in the spring, and was excited about the job and the opportunity to travel.

According to Farantos, Sofocleous is survived by her parents and two brothers, all of whom live in Pennsylvania. The family was in Athens yesterday, she said.

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