Residents of West Hartford's Quaker Green neighborhood were stunned and heartbroken Monday to learn that Maimuna Anyene, her four young children, and her husband, were among the 153 passengers and crew killed in Sunday's crash of a Dana Air plane in Lagos, Nigeria.
"We're all very sad. The whole community is very tight knit. I saw her leave with her husband and all four kids, going to her brother's wedding," said Elyse Fox, who lived next door to Anyene.
Reports indicate that all on board the plane were killed when it crashed into densely-populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, on Sunday. An unknown number of people on the ground also perished.
While Anyene and her children lived on Park Place Circle, her husband worked in Nigeria, neighbors said, but returned to West Hartford every few months. On Sunday, the entire family of six was traveling to Nigeria to attend Anyene's brother's wedding.
Monday afternoon, a bouquet of yellow tulips had been left on the front doorstep of the family’s home.
"I'd see her with her kids, and she seemed like a very nice person," said Keith Elis, of 32 Park Place Circle, who also has a preschool-age child. Elis said that his mother, who babysits for his daughter, knew Anyene better because the kids would sometimes play together.
"She was always smiling; I don't know how she did it," Elis said.
Elis said that word of the family's death in the crash spread through the neighborhood Sunday night after a neighbor found Anyene's name on the passenger list.
Anyene had lived in her townhouse, in Elmwood's newly-developed Quaker Green condominium complex, for several years. According to the Hartford Courant, she was a human resources manager for United Technologies who worked in the Gold Building in Hartford.
Residents describe the neighborhood as very community-oriented, where neighbors immediately reach out to meet newcomers. Anyene's family would socialize by the pool, and come to neighborhood parties, they said.
"I knew her as a neighbor, from being out playing with the kids," said Lisa Ohayon, who has a 2-year-old grandchild. "They were going to be moving, and that alone devastated the neighborhood. Six people gone – it just doesn't make sense," she said.
Lisa Ohayon and her husband John said Anyene's children were cared for during the day by an aunt and another family member while Anyene worked full time. "The twins were so cute, always dressed the same, and the aunt used to carry them on her back," Lisa Ohayon said.
Another neighbor, Tagen Gonzalez, believed Anyene's mother and perhaps at least one other relative were also on the plane. Gonzalez, also the mother of a preschooler, said Anyene's oldest child was just about four, the twin daughters would have been two in July, and the baby was about six months old.
"Her kids were always happy. This community is close, and this is surreal," Fox said.
Gonzalez said that she has already contacted United Technologies and is hoping to do something to formally honor the memory of the family.