Recent DU Grad Killed In Afghan Airline Crash

Amy Lynn Niebling Was Working To Expand Health Care For Poor In Afghanistan

A recent graduate of the University of Denver was killed in the Afghan plane crash last week, school officials confirmed Monday.

Amy Lynn Niebling earned her MA in international and intercultural communications from DU in 2004.

Amy Lynn Niebling had received her masters degree in international and intercultural communications from DU in 2004 before she went to Afghanistan as part of her work with the company Management Sciences for Health.

She was one of 104 people who died last Thursday after their Afghan airliner crashed 35 miles outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, on top of a snowy mountain peak.

Niebling was 29 years old and was recently married. She had worked at Denver's Project CURE and worked in the communication's department for MSH, which works on solving global public health problems.

The trip to Afghanistan was Nieblings' first field assignment for MSH. She was one of three women employed by MSH who died in the crash. Both Boston-based Carmen Urdaneta and Vermont native Cristi Gadue were working with Niebling on getting the word out about Afghanistan's expanding community-based healthcare program.

"Cristi, Amy, and Carmen were vibrant, committed young women, each doing great work. They each stood out as professionals who worked with exceptional energy and enthusiasm. They each had made a tremendous commitment to helping people who were less fortunate," said MSH president Dr. Jonathan Quick. "In the last call to Kabul before they left Herat Cristi expressed for the three a great sense of satisfaction with what they had achieved. In this time of grief, we can be thankful that Cristi, Amy, and Carmen were able to devote themselves to work that they loved and truly believed in doing."

"Amy was full of life, love, and compassion for her fellow man," said Susan Rivera, director of student affairs at DU's graduate school of international studies. "She dedicated her life to serving others ... We share her loss with her family, friends, and all those who knew her. The world has lost a true selfless humanitarian."

"Amy's commitment to doing the most difficult work of development and her clarity of vision were abundantly clear in her graduate study of economic and social development at GSIS. I am deeply saddened by her death, but also am comforted by the knowledge that she made an invaluable contribution to improving the lives of others. I hope that this knowledge will be a comfort to her family and friends," said her former professor Sarah Hamilton.

Most of the crash victims were Afghans, but six Americans were believed to have died in what is considered Afghanistan's worst aviation disaster.

The Boeing 737-200, flown by Kam Air, Afghanistan's first post-Taliban private airline, vanished from radar screens Thursday afternoon as it approached Kabul airport in a snowstorm from the western city of Herat. There were 96 passengers and eight crew aboard.

NATO helicopters spotted parts of the wreckage some 11,000 feet up Chaperi Mountain on Saturday, but freezing fog, low clouds and up to eight feet of snow had prevented alliance and Afghan forces from reaching the site.

The Defense Ministry spokesman said medical teams would hopefully arrive Tuesday to begin collecting the bodies.

Niebling lived in Somerville, Mass., and grew up in Omaha, Neb.

Dr. Susan Erikson, who taught Niebling who had a large perspective of the world.

"In one of my classes I do a segment every year about diamonds in Sierra Leone, specifically blood and conflict diamonds. The title of the lecture is 'Diamonds are forever and so are amputations.' As part of this segment, we talk about how global diamond sales have led to conflict in many parts of the world. When it came time for Amy to write a paper, she went to diamond stores in Cherry Creek and pretended to be interested in buying engagement rings for an upcoming wedding. She asked the salespeople about the diamonds, to see how much they really knew about the regions of the world that the diamonds they were selling are coming from," Erikson said. "She proceeded to collect all this data about how little the salespeople knew about the conflict diamonds they were selling. Amy then did a wonderful presentation and paper about her data she collected."

"The thing I admired most about Amy was that she wanted to know what it looked like in practice. She really wanted to dig deeper into the issue of Americans being so ignorant about the suffering in far away places and the market forces that lead to these conflicts for diamonds. This is just one example of the type of person Amy was, and the way she viewed the world," Erikson said.

A Memorial Service for Niebling will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 9, from 12:00 2:00 p.m. in the Arthur Gilbert Cyber Cafe at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies. It is located in the basement of Ben Cherrington Hall, 2201 South Gaylord Street.

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