Idaho resident Jimmy Hill spent the last weeks of his life in Ukraine, his sister Katya Hill said he did what he did best: Be a peacemaker and Try to bring people together. The 68-year-old was killed by a Russian bomb just days earlier, and his sister shared his story with reporters on Saturday. (Group photo of the Hill family)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Idaho resident Jimmy Hill spent the last weeks of his life in Ukraine doing what his sister says he does best: being a peacemaker and trying to bring people together.
“He went to the store with Ukrainians to line up for bread. He brought back cookies and chocolates for the nurses. He found a woman with four young children near the hospital to share food, used her internet at work, and (yes) ) trying to find a way out of Chernihiv for her and others,” Katya Hill said of her 68-year-old brother.
She said he was trying to find a bus to help a friend leave the country when a Russian bomb was dropped nearby, killing him.
“My brother Jimmy was a victim of the Ukrainian tragedy,” Katya Hill said in a Zoom call with reporters Saturday morning.
Although the State Department has confirmed her brother’s death, Katya Hill said her family is still waiting for more details from the government, including what happened to her brother’s body and its location.
Jimmy Hill is in Ukraine while his life partner Irina Tesrenko is being treated for multiple sclerosis. Katya Hill said she and her brother talked about delaying treatment for Teslenko and leaving the country before the war began, but he didn’t believe the war was really coming to Ukraine and chose to stay with his partner while she was receiving treatment .
“He was sure that the invasion wouldn’t happen, the world wouldn’t allow it to happen, and he worked so hard for this treatment. He didn’t want to delay,” Katya Hill said. “Then the bombing started.”
In the early weeks of the war, Katya Hill said her brother reported crimes against civilians to her. She said he was a forensic psychologist and teacher at several universities in Europe, including one in Kyiv, Ukraine, so he collected and shared evidence of the crimes.
Katya Hill said he remained optimistic during more than 20 days of bombing, utility losses and food restrictions, and that, thanks to access to hospital internet, he was able to communicate regularly with his family in the United States.
Katya Hill said when she spoke to her brother on the phone, she would hear bombs going off in the background. Jimmy Hill told her that the bombs were designed to kill civilians, and she said the bombing would stop for a few hours, long enough for people to go out and try to get supplies, and then the bombs would drop on people and wait in line.
I can’t explain what the bond is between two people who fall in love and have a strong bond with each other and they will go through everything. …it’s a beautiful love story, but unfortunately, it has a tragic ending.
—Katya Hill, sister of Jimmy Hill
After the war, Katya Hill said her brother talked about housing Ukrainians in Airbnb properties in Idaho and Montana and building a “little Ukraine” with his friends. He went with his friend Hurricane Katrina to find information about the buses that took people out of the country through the safety corridor on the day of his death.
In a chat with Jimmy Hill’s family and others involved in Teslenko’s care, Katrina said Jimmy Hill saw more than 1,000 people waiting for the bus and decided to return to Tess in the hospital when the bomb struck. Lianke. She also shared that she lost hearing in one ear during the explosion that killed her friend.
Katya Hill said her brother met Teslenko while teaching forensic psychology at a European university and the two had a deep bond. He wants to do everything in his power to stop Tesrenko’s progression.
Katya Hill said Teslenko was still in the hospital and friends were trying to find a way to help her get out of the area safely. Hurricane Katrina told Teslenko’s mother Jimmy Hill was killed, but they didn’t want to tell Teslenko at the time. Katya Hill said she believed that by now Teslenko knew what was going on.
“I can’t explain the connection between two people who fell in love, with such a strong bond with each other, that they would go through everything,” Katya Hill said. “Of course, my brother sacrificed his own for her. Life. . . It’s a beautiful love story, but unfortunately, it has a tragic end.”
Russia – UkraineIdaho