“And then I saw a photo on Twitter, and I recognized my children… and I called my friends to say that the children are dead. Their bodies are lying on pavement.”
Erin Burnett was brought to tears after a Ukrainian man detailed how he had lost his family in a shelling during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
During an interview conducted by the CNN anchor on Wednesday March 16, Serhiy Perebyinis shared a tragic story of how he had learned of the death of his wife and two children on Twitter.
In a previous interview with the New York Times, Perebyinis shared that he had been away in eastern Ukraine in order to take care of his sick mother and his wife Tetiana had tried to flee with their children.
Just the night before her death, Perebyinis revealed that he had managed to get in contact with his wife and spoke about a possible evacuation, which became the last conversation they would ever have.
“That was the day when already there was no water, electricity, gas, and we discussed — I spoke to her at 10 p.m., even though at that point there was no connectivity either. But I managed to get through and had a discussion about potential evacuation,” he recounted to Burnett.
He continued to describe the events leading up to her death, “At the last moment however, the convoy she was planning to travel with was shelled at and fired at. And then she came on foot to the bridge, trying to make an escape on foot.”
When Burnett then asked about his children, she welled up into tears. Serhiy explained how he had been able to utilize Google’s geolocation feature to stay informed on the whereabouts of his family. On the day of their death he had noticed that their location had looked “unusual.”
“I noticed that there was an unusual geolocation between Kyiv and their pin. And then 20 minutes later, her phone moved to another location, to a hospital in Kyiv. And I suspected something was wrong,” he said.
Perebyinis had asked his friends to go to the hospital for any information about his family when he had learned about their fate through a news post on Twitter.
“And then I saw a photo on Twitter, and I recognized my children. I recognized their things and their clothes. And I called my friends to say that the children are dead. Their bodies are lying on pavement.”
Perebyinis in loving memory of Tetiana shared that they had been married for 23 years and in 2021 they “even had a second wedding at the church, [because] we wanted to make the marriage lawful in the skies above us.”
“She was a very cheerful person, she was the financial director of a large American company,” he continued. “We spent lots of time together as a family. We loved bicycles, in winter we went skiing, and she loved very much planting flowers at her dacha, countryside cottage.”
Burnett shared her condolences, clearly overwhelmed with emotion as she said, “Serhiy, as a parent, any person around the world can’t imagine your unbearable loss, above all losing your children.”
Perebyinis described his children as “normal, cheerful children.” His son Mykita had been 18 and attending his second year of university where he studied programming in hopes to become an IT professional.
His daughter Alisa was only nine-years-old, “She liked dancing, painting. She studied English,” he said.
Also during the interview, Burnett asked if he had been able to recover the bodies of his family for burial.
“I was driving for three days and I broke in there and managed to bury everyone, I even managed to take away a pet dog,” he answered.