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Friends hold Las Vegas vigil to honor woman killed in plane crash

In the hours before the plane crash that would take her life, Valeriya Slyzko was texting with her friend and co-worker, sharing selfies of her in the small plane, of the view over Lake Havasu and of the beer she drank with lunch.

But by late afternoon on Nov. 26, the texts had stopped, Slyzko’s co-worker and friend, Diana Spence, said Saturday night.

“I’m just so blessed to have known her,” Spence said during a vigil for Slyzko at the United States Postal Service processing office where she worked, 3755 E. Post Road.

Slyzko was one of three people who died in a fiery plane crash near Gass Peak, about 15 miles north of Las Vegas, although Slyzko’s identity had not been officially released by the Clark County coroner’s office as of Saturday. The coroner’s office has identified her husband, 60-year-old Gregory Akers, of Henderson, as another victim, and family members have said the third victim was Slyzko’s mother.

About 25 of Slyzko’s friends and coworkers on Saturday night lit white candles and spoke about the kind woman who always had a smile for everyone.

Slyzko, who is from Ukraine, had worked at the office since 2014, said David Cole, one of her co-workers. She “never said a bad word about anybody,” he said.

“It’s tough,” Cole said. “We still come to work and some days I think, man, she’s going to be walking through that door any minute.”

Cole said he wasn’t aware of any family Slyzko had in the U.S. other than her mother and husband.

The coroner’s office has ruled Akers’ death an accident. Officials have said the crash happened about 5:35 p.m. Nov. 26, and the plane was a single-engine Cirrus SR22 registered to Akers’ company, Baron Von Speed LLC.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor has said the plane went down under unknown circumstances. Further information about what caused the crash was not available as of Saturday.

Spence emphasized that Slyzko was “a great person.” On the day of the crash, Spence said, she had been texting Slyzko while she was in the plane. They talked on the phone briefly and then Slyzko sent her a picture of her lunch. Spence was likely the last person Slyzko spoke with before the crash.

“I just cherish that we were friends for that short time,” said Spence, adding that she had worked at the facility with Slyzko for about 15 months.

Slyzko’s co-workers spoke about her love for her dogs, how she liked beer and was a “fierce soul.” One woman lamented that she didn’t give Slyzko a hug when she saw her at work the day before the crash.

“She just touched my heart so much,” the woman said.

Spence said she wanted people to know about Slyzko’s kindness.

“She loved everybody, she defended everybody, she liked everybody,” Spence said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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