American James Hill killed in Ukraine planned to get himself and other Ukrainians abroad to safety – CBS Pittsburgh

By: Amanda Andrews of KDKA-TV

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – “It’s a beautiful love story, but it has a tragic ending.”

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James “Jimmy” Hill, 68, of Idaho, was in Ukraine with his Ukrainian partner, Ira, when Russia’s invasion of the country began Feb. 24.

Ira suffers from multiple sclerosis and was receiving treatment for her condition at a hospital in Chernihiv.

A few weeks later, on Wednesday March 16, Jimmy was one of 10 people killed by the Russian army.

He, along with other Ukrainians, was queuing for bread, according to Ukrainian officials.

Back in the United States, Jimmy’s family was in constant communication with him via Facebook Messenger and constantly worried about his well-being.

One of her siblings, Katya Hill, is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and shared some thoughts on her hopes and aspirations as well as her observations of the war in Ukraine.

“For me personally, and I know my sister and my brother, the stress of going through those days was enormous. But he stayed positive,” Katya Hill said in an interview on Saturday, March 19.

Ukraine is about nine hours ahead of the Pittsburgh time zone, so Katya would wake up in the middle of the night to messages from her brother.

Although he remained optimistic about the situation, he eventually began to admit the army’s toll on the city.

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“He was reporting that the shelling was getting worse, getting closer, getting more intense,” she said. “When I woke up the first thing I did was check and his message was, ‘I survived the night. “”

Before his death, Jimmy considered leaving Chernihiv and helping other Ukrainians flee the violence.

“Jimmy has AirBnbs in Idaho Falls and another in Montana [so he was thinking] to have families from Ukraine and to wonder how many families he could have living in his property and to create a little Ukraine in Idaho. So he didn’t think about the possibility of that happening. At least he didn’t share that,” Katya said. “But I know towards the end when we lost contact… his last Facebook post was [about] the intensity of the bombings. I know that when I was talking to him on the phone, I heard bombs exploding in the background.

Her partner, Ira, is still in the hospital, according to Katya.

Jimmy’s family and other Ukrainians attempt to use Facebook Messenger to get her safely out of Chernihiv.

However, with reports of Russian military attacks injuring and killing refugees on the roads, it was difficult to coordinate safe passage for her.

Prior to Wednesday, Jimmy had discussed with his sister the violence he saw being perpetrated against Ukrainian civilians and refugees trying to escape to safety.

“When I spoke with him, the strategy that is used to kill civilians [is] there will be intense shelling which will then stop. And there will be no shelling for an hour or several hours,” Katya said. “People then feel safe and they don’t have food, so stores and bread lines will open. They will come out and line up trying to get bread, food, or other supplies, then the shelling will resume and that shelling will target those lines.

Representatives for Katya have said this will likely be the last time she will publicly discuss her brother’s passing as the family mourns his loss.

The entire Hill family issued the following statement on Saturday:

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“Our family is heartbroken to share the news of the death of our beloved brother, James ‘Jimmy’ Hill in Chernihiv, Ukraine on March 17, 2022. Our parents instilled in us a strong belief to respect, to appreciating and loving humanity, diversity. Jimmy’s life was a reflection of this belief. Indeed, Jimmy loved to travel and meet people. As he was known to say, he loved “bringing people together”. He was the kind of person that people in need or in crisis “sought for help. He had a grounded and gentle presence, was a wonderful storyteller, had a great sense of humor, and always tried to make the peace in any kind of conflict. Jimmy stayed in Ukraine out of love for Irina Teslenko, his girlfriend with multiple sclerosis. He had worked tirelessly to find her cure and refused to leave her bedside when the invasion began in Ukraine He stayed true to his love for el the, his love for Ukrainians and his love for humanity until his death. Jimmy met his untimely death when he left the hospital to find food for patients, nurses, and neighbors, and to find a way to communicate with friends and family overseas. In such disasters and crises, may we all be blessed to find someone like Jimmy. He was such a kind, caring and grateful man who genuinely cared about others. Jimmy would like us to remember the good in people’s hearts, and he would like us all to help alleviate and alleviate human suffering. As we remember Jimmy, and as we continue our life’s journey, we also remember the special words: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”

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