CNN’s Erin Burnett wept throughout a heartbreaking interview on Wednesday with a Ukrainian man whose wife and two children were killed by Russian fire while trying to flee a town outside Kyiv on Sunday.
Serhiy Perebyinis learned his loved ones had died on Twitter.
Images captured by New York Times journalists and circulated around the world showed four bodies on the street in Irpin after the Russian military shelled a civilian evacuation route.
The four were Perebyinis’ wife, Tatiana, his 18-year-old son, Mykyta, his 9-year-old daughter, Alisa, and Anatoly Berezhnyi, a church volunteer who was helping the family evacuate.
Perebyinis told Burnett that he suspected something was wrong on Sunday morning when he saw his wife’s phone’s geolocation had moved from Irpin to a hospital in Kyiv. Soon after, he saw on Twitter that a family had died in the mortar shelling.
“And then I saw a photo on Twitter, and I recognized my children. I recognized their things and their clothes,” he said, according to a live translation.
Mykyta was in his second year of college, he said. He wanted to become an IT professional. His daughter enjoyed dancing and painting and was studying English.
Tatiana was the chief accountant for a software company with offices in London and Silicon Valley. The couple had been married 23 years.
“She was a very cheerful person,” he said. “She was the financial director of a large American company. We spent lots of time together as family. We laughed, [rode] bicycles. In winter, we went skiing. … She loved very much planting flowers.”
Perebyinis told The New York Times in an interview last week that he felt it was important that his family members’ deaths were recorded on camera. “The whole world should know what is happening here.”
The United Nations has recorded 726 civilian deaths and 1,174 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded, though it believes the actual figures are considerably higher.
Most of the civilian casualties have been caused by explosive weapons, including mortar shelling, multiple-launch rocket systems and missile and air strikes, according to the U.N.