Honors Fallen Heros
RENO, Nev. (November 24, 2016) American Medflight, with
permission from their families, is saddened to announce the loss of Captain Yuji
Irie, Nurse Tiffany Urresti, and Paramedic Jake Shepherd, who were killed Friday night an a tragic aircraft accident in Elko,
Yuji Irie was a Japanese immigrant to the United States. He wanted to fly his entire life, and never
stopped in pursuit of his passion.
Indeed, he became a skilled aviator and had saved hundreds of lives over
a long career at American Medflight. He
was based in Ely, Nevada, the toughest base for inclement weather in the
American Medflight system. Despite the
fact that Ely often experiences some of the most challenging weather conditions
in the lower 48 states, Captain Irie was always ready to fly patients to urban medical
centers where they could receive life saving care. His skill as a pilot far exceeded even the
best of aviators.
Yuji's family was involved in travel and tourism. As a young man, he worked so hard that he
often had little time to pursue his passion as an aviator. As soon as he had the chance in middle age,
Yuji learned to fly and quickly built up his talent for aviation. He even bought a small airliner as a younger
man in hopes of providing air tours for his travel and tourism business. Having realized the huge financial
obligations of owning an air carrier, Yuji eventually sold his airplane and
went to work flying for others. He
worked for several aircraft charter companies from Las Vegas all the way to the
Mariana Islands in the South Pacific.
Captain Irie found his true life calling at American
Medflight. He always was ready to go
save a life and always found a way to safely transport his patients and medical
crew regardless of the challenges he faced.
He often noted that he wanted to finish his entire professional career
as a pilot at American Medflight. John
Burruel, American Medflight's President and CEO, remembered Yuji as someone who
was unstoppable. "I've always said
that if I had 50 Yuji's, this company would be unstoppable and we'd achieve
anything we set out to do. He had the
best work ethic I've ever seen and he cared for people with endless energy and
compassion". Captain Irie held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and
a First Class Medical Certificate, making him the most highly qualified pilot
from both an airman certification and medical evaluation standpoint. Captain Irie dreamed of building his own
aircraft and someday flying it back to Japan.
He began on this journey years ago, and his dream aircraft still sits in
the garage of his son's home in Las Vegas...waiting for that incredible flight
across the Pacific to Japan.
Tiffany Urresti committed her entire adult life to helping others. She began her career in medicine as a Receptionist and Dental Hygiene Assistant at 7 Day Dental. Her brilliant mind and readiness to help others quickly accelerated her up the ladder of professional development in medicine. Tiffany completed nursing school and went to work as a registered nurse at Golden Health Family Medical, then put her skills to work at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in the Emergency Room. Emergency medicine demands some of the sharpest skills in medicine and Tiffany was an integral part of Emergency care at Northeaster Nevada Regional.
Never one to shy away from helping others in times of critical needs, Tiffany followed in the footsteps of her father, becoming a volunteer fire fighter with Lee Engine Company. Her natural talent for leading others was quickly identified and she became involved not only in volunteer fire fighting, but also became part of the Board of Directors for Lee Engine Company. Tiffany excelled at everything she did and being a volunteer fire fighter helped her serve her community in yet another way, in addition to the nursing she provided.
Tiffany dreamed of being a flight nurse, and continued to develop her skills in medicine and patient care. She was highly recommended to American Medflight by her lifelong friend, Chanda Sollinger. Tiffany excelled as a flight nurse, allowing her to use her skills in serving people throughout Nevada and surrounding states. Due to the high demands of the job, very few nurses are able to withstand the rigor of flight nursing. Indeed, there are few, if any, nursing positions that involve the quick decision making and medical knowledge that flight nursing demands. Tiffany handled these demands with grace and ease, comforting the patients she transported and integrating quickly to become a valuable asset to the American Medflight team. Megan Russell, the Chief Flight Nurse at American Medflight had this to say regarding Tiffany: "I remember asking her what she was up to one afternoon. She smiled widely and proudly said 'I'm going to FLY' as she excitedly ran to the aircraft. She was one of the best!"
To embody purity, a clear understanding, true happiness, and unconditional love are the desires of all mankind. Jake was among the few to attain such qualities.
Jake Shepherd- son, husband, father, brother, and friend was released from his physical body and returned to his Father in Heaven following the crash of his medical airplane. He is survived by his wife and high school sweetheart, Sadie Brooke Shepherd, his four-year-old son, Jack, two-year-old daughter, Ruby, and one-year-old son, Dean. He is also survived by his mother Linda Shepherd, father Dennis Shepherd, step-mother Natalie Shepherd, EMS family, Police family, and Fire-Fighter family.
Jake was a Critical Care Flight Paramedic and Trainer for the Nevada based air ambulance company, American Medflight. He was also a Critical Care Paramedic and field training officer for the Utah based ground ambulance company, Mountain West Ambulance. He had also worked for the Richmond, Menden, Nibley, and North Logan Fire Departments, as well as the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office. All of this accomplished by the time he turned 24 years of age.
Jake overflowed with life which was shown through his contagious smile, quit wit, infectious laughter, and ability to care for and bring joy to everyone he came into contact with. He was a brilliant paramedic whose knowledge was second to none. He was a man who all husbands and fathers can only hope to mirror. He held Sadie, his eternal companion, above all others, which was exhibited through his endearing words and protective actions. The passion and love for his children was manifest through similar avenues. Jake loved to be in the service of his fellow man as much as he loved flying.
Jake leaves a legacy of life, love and laughter. “Good night sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”