Drexel University graduate, mom among Germanwings plane crash victims

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Drexel University graduate and her mother were among three Americans killed in a plane crash in the southern French Alps Tuesday, the State Department announced Wednesday.

The victims are identified as Emily Selke and her mother Yvonne Selke. Both lived in Nokesville, Virginia. The third American's identity has not been released.

"Our entire family is deeply saddened by the losses of Yvonne and Emily Selke. Two wonderful, caring, amazing people who meant so much to so many. At this difficult time we respectfully ask for privacy and your prayers," a statement from the Selke family read.

Emily Selke graduated Drexel in 2013.

Drexel University issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

Drexel is deeply saddened to hear about the tragic loss of alumna Emily Selke and her mother. Emily graduated with honors from Drexel in 2013 and was a music industry major in Drexel's Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

The Drexel University Gamma Sigma Sigma Zeta Chapter posted this message on their Facebook page:

Zeta chapter is mourning the loss of our beautiful alumni, Emily Selke. Emily and her mother were abroad the plane from Barcelona to Dsseldorf that crashed yesterday. Emily served as our membership VP while in Zeta and she was an integral part of our growing chapter. She embodied the spirit of Gamma Sigma Sigma. As a person and friend, Emily always put others before herself and cared deeply for all those in her life. Emily will be greatly missed by her fellow sisters of Zeta. Please keep Emily, her mother and their family in your thoughts and prayers during this heartbreaking time.

The Associated Press reports Yvonne Selke is a longtime and highly regarded employee of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. in Washington. She performed work under contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's satellite mapping office, according to a person close to the family. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to release information to reporters.

Friends and coworkers of Yvonne's circulated a photograph of her showing a smiling, middle-aged woman with bobbed brown hair and eyeglasses, and a photo of her daughter, an attractive blond with dark eyes and bright smile. They described her as a diligent and generous worker who regularly brought cookies to co-workers.

A person who answered the phone at Yvonne's home said the family was not providing any information at this time.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki earlier Wednesday confirmed the deaths of two U.S. citizens. She said the government was in contact with family members but not releasing the names at this time out of respect for the family, and said the U .S. was reviewing records to determine whether any other U.S. citizens might have been on board the flight.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the 150 people on board," Psaki said.

Further details about Yvonne Selke's work for the secretive Pentagon agency were not immediately available. Most information about her assignment and contact information had already been removed Wednesday from Booz Allen's internal network.

A Booz Allen spokeswoman, Kimberly West, declined to comment, noting that Germanwings had not yet disclosed identities of the crash victims. A spokesman for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Timothy B. Taylor, said it was inappropriate for the agency to comment or confirm information about any contract employee.

The Germanwings A320 lost radio contact with air traffic controllers over the southern French Alps during a routine flight Tuesday from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany, before crashing, killing all 150 on board. French officials said terrorism appeared unlikely, and Germany's top security official said Wednesday there was no evidence of foul play. French investigators were opening the jet's mangled black box they recovered, hoping the cockpit recordings inside would help them unlock the mystery of what caused the crash.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.