A special tribute has been paid from a friend of well-loved aid worker Sam Pegram, who died in a plane crash on Ethiopian Airlines.
He worked for the Norwegian Refugee Council and was on his way to Nairobi when the Boeing 737 Max 8 came down shortly after take-off on Sunday.
Close friend Pierson Racanelli, an American who lives in Lebanon and who met Sam while they were living in Amman, Jordan in early-mid 2016, says he cannot believe he is gone.
Here's what he had to say about him:
"My amazing, wonderful, singularly cheerful and vivacious friend Sam Pegram was on the plane that crashed in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019. There were no survivors. He died on that brief
flight, which crashed six minutes after taking off.
"Samuel, or Sayyuuuuuuum as I used to call him, was someone that I had met during my time living in Amman, Jordan in early 2016. We had some ridiculous adventures together, such as
when we ran the Dead2Red Relay, a relay race from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea (distance of around 240 km) done all in one “sitting,” as well as when we re-enacted early-mid 90s Saturday Night Live sketches in a room full of people who had no idea who Chris Farley, David Spade, or Dana Carvey were.
"I met Sam after I had inquired on a Facebook group as to the possibility of finding pickup soccer opportunities in Amman; he promptly responded that there was a group that would be happy to have me if I could make it the following Tuesday. Tuesday came, and I found Sam at Paris Circle in Amman. We immediately struck up conversation about the Premier League (we found out that day that we supported opposing sides of the North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal), how insane the 2016 Republican primaries were, and how we wished that Jordanian bars would offer something other than Amstel.
"We proceeded to play a great hour or so of soccer (football, as he’d call it) in some random park in eastern Amman.
"I didn’t know it at that moment, but I was witnessing for the first time that quintessential Samuel kindness and willingness to take a chance on people that later would characterize the young man I came to consider a close friend.
"He was uncanny when it came to that.
"He was relentlessly and uncompromisingly kind, to the extent that I used to make fun of him for it.
"In response to my heckling, he would often bring out an unexpectedly astute pun, something that I rarely had a sufficient response for.
"But he was always, without fail, willing to give someone new a chance and “bring them into the circle,” so to speak.
"That was the other thing about Sam; he had lots of friends because of the high-calibre person he was.
"And so, when he took a chance on you, when he brought you into the circle, it meant something.
"People liked him, and he loved people, with a spirit that never sputtered, diminished, or doubted. It was actually remarkable to behold, in hindsight.
"Frankly, I didn’t have enough time with Sam. I feel cheated by the universe, bereft of a years-long friendship that could have been, and that reality is quite unpleasant and difficult to accept.
"On the other hand, I feel fortunate, incredibly so, to have known the young man. On top of his extraordinary character from a personal standpoint, Samuel was deeply committed to humanitarian policy, the rights of refugees, and social justice in a broad sense. In other words, he was an all-around gem, a true advocate for justice and empowerment for those less fortunate around the world. He was on his way to help “facilitate a workshop for [the] NRC” that fateful day. Those are his words, from an Instagram conversation we had on March 9, one day before he passed away.
"Sam and I shared several ridiculous, arguably misguided adventures, though not enough.
"However, there is something in which I can find some degree of solace, and that is the following: that I knew Samuel, I truly got to know him, and that I had the privilege and honor of calling him my friend and knowing that he’d say the same.
"On an internal level I am not often compelled to consider, this fact makes me profoundly happy.
"And the memory of singing a rendition of “How Deep is Your Love” by Calvin Harris to Sayyuuuuuum on the soccer field to torture him in front of our friends will always, always make me smile.
"Rest in Peace, Samuel Pegram. You were a magnificent soul, and I’ll miss you bitterly until the day I expire."