Around New England

Mass. Native, Killed In Ethiopian Plane Crash, Recalled As “Shining Star”; Was Ralph Nader’s Grandniece

March 22, 2019

24-year-old Samya Stumo, a Sheffield native and an alumna of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, was one of 157 passengers killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash of a Boeing 737 Max shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia on March 15.

Stumo also graduated from Mount Everett Regional High School in Sheffield when she was just 16.

According to the Berkshire Eagle Tribune, Stumo, a medical anthropologist working for ThinkWell, a global health organization, was en route to Kenya and Uganda to “set up offices for a larger project to make health care more affordable” in the region when the crash occurred.

The Eagle Tribune writes that her parents, Michael Stumo and Nadia Milleron, described Stumo as “a fearless, radiant spirit who inspired others to live brightly and fully [who] cared most about treating all people and patients as human beings, particularly in the context of their culture, family, and individuality.”

The paper also reported that a neighbor, Gail Mullen, who knew Stumo since her infancy, described her as a “shining star” and that Stumo’s anthropology professor at UMass-Amherst, Tom Leatherman, described her as “passionate […] joyful, kind, spirited, and fearless.”

Among her many accomplishments, Stumo also “received a master’s degree in global health from the University of Copenhagen, and went on to work as a consultant for the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, where she worked on a study to monitor viral hepatitis in more than 27 European countries,” the Eagle Tribune writes.

Stumo’s great-uncle, the well-known activist, consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, told the Eagle Tribune that he had had dinner with his grandniece shortly before her death. He also told the  Eagle Tribune he believes the blame for the crash may very well fall on the plane’s manufacturer — Boeing — as this is the second deadly crash of the company’s newly redesigned 737 Max in only two months.

Reports from numerous sources suggest that, if there is a problem with the aircraft, it might be connected to the plane’s computer software systems that manage various safety features on the plane.

Nader warned the Eagle Tribune of a looming “Boeing software time bomb.” 

“‘This is criminal negligence at the least,’ he said of software-induced flight-control problems reported by pilots,” the Eagle Tribune writes.

The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes in the United States.

A celebration of Samya Stumo’s life will be held at her family’s farm in Sheffield on Saturday, March 23, at 1 PM, the Eagle Tribune reports.

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