Austin woman remembers friend and victim aboard MH 17

AUSTIN (KXAN) —  Thursday marks one week since 298 people died when a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed after a missile shot it down over Eastern Ukraine. It was an international tragedy that has left families and friends heartbroken.

“She so embraced our culture and she loved American pancakes, she didn’t understand making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and she loved Thanksgiving,” said Catherine Campbell, an Austin woman whose best friend, Karlijn Keijzer, was on MH 17.

Campbell and Keijzer met in 2010 when they were both recruited to the woman’s rowing team at Indiana University and were members during the 2011 season.

“She was fierce and relentless and she was like the quarterback of the boat,” Campbell said as she reflected about rowing with her friend.

Keijzer, 25, was a doctoral student studying chemistry at Indiana. She had gone back home to the Netherlands for the summer and on July 17 was headed to Malaysia to go to Indonesia with her boyfriend for a vacation before school started again.

“They were madly in love,” said Campbell as she remembered the time Keijzer’s boyfriend, Laurens, would visit her in the U.S.

Campbell said she had a Skype conversation with Keijzer a week before, talking about the vacation she and her boyfriend were about to go on.  Campbell even liked a Facebook picture of the couple at the airport before they got on the plane.

“My heart sunk to my stomach at first and it just felt like knives all through my body,” said Campbell as she remembered the feeling when she found out her friends were on the plane. “My heart goes out to the Netherlands and to all the other victims and families. Their hearts are breaking just like ours are.”

While Campbell talked with KXAN News a plane flew over head, bringing forth a difficult reminder of the hurt she is going through.

“”Hearing that is so painful but you know in the same way I think maybe it’s her reminding me to stay strong for her and her family and our friends,” said Campbell.

Strength that comes from remembering the early morning practices, attending their first IU college football game and other fun times. Memories that will keep Keijzer’s spirit alive.

Investigators are still combing for clues at the site where an Malaysia Airlines jet crashed one week ago. The crash scene still remains mostly untouched with investigators unable to get past Pro-Russian rebels controlling the area. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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