AIDS researcher killed in MH17 crash has Tampa ties

Tampa, Florida — An international AIDS researcher with close ties to the Bay Area was killed, along with 297 others, when Malaysia flight MH17 was shot down in the Ukraine near the Russian border Thursday.

10 News sat down with those who were closest to Joep Lange, who say they are appalled at his death, in a story you'll only see on 10 News.

"Be sure to enjoy life even if you're working hard. We only have one go," reads Robinson High School class of '72 yearbook editor Larry Easler.

You can see the words written right on the page, those of internationally renowned AIDS researcher, Joep Lange.

"It's tragic," Easler said.

Lange was killed Thursday when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down near the Ukraine, Russian border. He was on his way to an international conference on AIDS in Australia.

"His life was dedicated to doing great things, and he's just wiped off...senselessly," Easler said.

Lange was an exchange student at Tampa's Robinson High School in 1972.

"I'll try to remember those good times," Easler said. "(He) mixed in with everybody very well, was very well liked."

Lange made an impression, even at 17-years-old.

"He was just such a wonderful man," said Deannie Holland-Best. "I called him my Dutch son. I still think of him as my dutch son."

Lange lived with Holland-Best while he went to Robinson High as an exchange student.

"To say that I'm devastated, of course, is understating the fact," Holland-Best said, tearing up.

"Just to think that that wonderful man who was doing so much good had his life cut short...Not only is it criminal, but it's an insult to the world that that can happen," she said.

She's mourning now, still looking for answers, but she says she knows her Joep changed lives around the world, and right here at home.

"He did touch a lot of lives. Even here in Tampa," she said.

Similar stories you may find interesting:

U.S.: Russia helped deploy missile that hit jet

Passenger on Flight MH17 posts photo prior to take off

Questions remain in wake of Malaysia Air crash

Malaysian airliner shot down in Ukraine


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