By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Family and friends are mourning a Minnesota man who was among the 157 people killed on board a plane crash in Ethiopia.

Flight 302 crashed just after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital Sunday.

Investigators and search crews are sifting through the debris of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet. It’s the second deadly crash involving the same model jetliner in less than five months.

In both instances, the pilots reported technical problems and struggled to gain altitude.

The black box has been recovered and could provide more information on what happened.

Eight Americans were among the victims, including Mucaad Hussein, who lived in St. Cloud.

Residents of the city are remembering Mucaad, who they say was a young man full of promise.

St. Cloud broadcaster and community activist Haji Yussuf says Mucaad Hussein Siraje graduated from St. Cloud Apollo High School in about 2010.

“He was very much involved in the community, especially the youth,” Yussuf said. “It’s a great loss, a lot of potential in him and you can see that in his leadership qualities.”

Yussuf says Mucaad was dedicated to his family. One of his relatives posted on Facebook saying, “He was a good person. May God protect you.”

Yussuf says his family in St. Cloud is devastated, and because of the violence of the crash, they have no hope of recovering his body for burial.

He says Mucaad was part of a political movement that is active in both the U.S. and east Africa that is protesting the policies of the Ethiopian government.

“He was an activist fighting for people back home in his home country that were being abused by the regimes in Ethiopia,” Yussuf said.

Mucaad was well known in St. Cloud for his passion for soccer, taking part in very friendly, but very competitive, summer leagues.

“He was very social; always had a smile on his face, always cracking jokes,” Yussuf said.

Yussuf says many in the Somali community are not only mourning Mucaad, but also the loss of 156 others from 35 countries, including 19 United Nations staffers and other prominent African aid workers.

Esme Murphy