WESTON (CBS4) – The South Florida community of Weston is mourning the loss of a family of four who died in a fiery plane crash in northwest Russia early Monday.

The St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church at 2001 N. Andrews Ave. in Wilton Manors hosted a 30-minute service on Saturday at 4 p.m. to celebrate the lives of Alexander Simanov, his wife, Lyudmila Simonova, and their daughters, Yelizaveta and Yekaterina.

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The family was on the RusAir flight that crashed just before landing at Besovets Airport.

They were the only U.S. citizens on-board, and according to the Russian government held dual citizenship with Russia.

Flowers and candles lined the family’s house in Weston.  Neighbors held a candlelight vigil after learning of the family’s deaths.

Neighbor Leslie Gray said her heart goes out to the family’s relatives and, “it truly is tragic that a young family should be taken so cruelly.”

Yelizaveta attended Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston and Yekaterina was enrolled to start kindergarten at Gator Run Elementary also in Weston.

Falcon Cove Middle School principal Dr. Mark J. Kaplan said Yelizaveta, known as “Liza” to classmates, was a bright, gifted student who had lots of friends.

He issued this statement Monday afternoon.

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The Falcon Cove School Community is saddened by the tragic loss of Yelizaveta “Liza” Simanova and her family. She was one of our top students- a gifted and popular young lady who had a bright future ahead of her. As we try to understand and grieve the loss of an entire family from our community, let us remember that life is precious and should never be taken for granted. May we live each day remembering that our families and our friends are the pieces that hold our community together. It is with this in mind that we lean on each other during this difficult time.

Kaplan said the family spent every summer in their native Russia.

The couple’s younger daughter Yekaterina, often known as “Katya” was set to start kindergarten in the fall.   Gator Run principal, Susan Sasse said, “It’s definitely hard to think about what would have been.  Would she have been like her sister?”  The principal said it is sad to know those questions will never be answered.

Lyudmila and Alexander managed a software company, called MechCAD, which was based in Russia and at the family’s Weston home. He also worked as a senior software engineer with Fort Lauderdale-headquartered Citrix Systems.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our respected colleague Alexander Simanov and his family and are respecting the family’s privacy during this tragedy,” said Citrix Systems senior Vice President of Human Resources David Friedman.

Russian transportation officials said pilot error and bad weather may have been to blame for the crash that killed 44 people.

Eight people survived the crash. But a young boy has since died, according to news reports.

Next-of-kin living in Russia will handle burial arrangements

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