LA MIRADA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Long Beach man was among those killed in the deadly plane crash in Ethiopia.
The crash of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft killed 157 people, including Matt Vecere of Long Beach.
Vecere was a writer and communications specialist at IQAir, an air filtration and air-quality monitoring company in La Mirada.
Employees there are in mourning.
Vecere was on his way to the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya.
"It just was devastating because here we had all this hope and we're so happy for him and waiting for him to make a big splash and it ended up in tragedy," said Tiffany Allegretti, a public relations manager for IQAir.
Vecere, who lives in Long Beach, was a lifelong humanitarian committed to environmental justice. At IQAir, he worked to improve conditions in countries without access to air quality monitoring. He had traveled to Haiti dozens of times since the 2010 earthquake.
"Matt was a huge part of our workforce," Allegretti said. "We loved working with him. He was a surfer, he was funny, this low-key humanitarian."
IQ Air decided to send Matt Vecere to represent the company on Friday morning and he left Friday night. It was an opportunity for humanitarian work that he was looking forward to.
Vecere grew up on the East Coast and his mother Donna lives in Atlantic City, NJ.
She issued a statement: "Matt was passionate about the environment, civil rights, social and environmental justice, and advocating for those less fortunate. His passion turned to direct action, rolling up his sleeves to serve causes where he could make a tangible difference. He volunteered countless hours with charitable organizations, at community events, and with numerous relief efforts after natural disasters."
"Matt will be missed by many. We are heartbroken more than words can express."
Before his death, Vecere launched a GoFundMe drive to help build an orphanage for youth in Haiti. His coworkers asked for people to contribute to the cause to honor Vecere's memory.