A close friend of the American man who was killed while waiting in a bread line in Ukraine said he’s been desperately trying to reach the victim’s sick partner, who may not be aware that he is dead.
James Whitney Hill was identified by sister Cheryl Hill Gordon in a post on Facebook, where she wrote that he was killed in Chernihiv as “he was waiting in a bread line with several other people when they were gunned down by Russian military [snipers].”
The 67-year-old had been living in Ukraine and working as a teacher for the past 25 years, she told The Post on Thursday.
He became romantically involved with a former student, who was then diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about eight years ago, she said. The partner’s name has been reported as Iryna Teslenko, but he called her Ira.
Hill’s longtime close friend Vincent Angelo Rosano told The US Sun that he has been desperately trying to reach Ira and her mother at a hospital about 90 miles outside Kyiv to inform them about his death.
“Ira is very, very ill, and I’ve been calling her and trying to figure out how to get in touch with her mother,” Rosano told the outlet from his home in Italy, where he has been living since leaving Ukraine in March.
“They probably don’t even know if he’s dead or alive, he just went out to buy bread. I’ve been talking to another group of Ukrainian friends and we cannot get in touch with them,” he said.
“They were only in the hospital with about six people because all of the nurses and doctors were evacuated,” Rosano continued.
“I hope people are in action and I find a way to send money to Ira and her mom, we just don’t know what is happening at the minute. Ira is in bed, she’s not good at all, at times she can’t even speak. I don’t know if they are safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hill’s other sister, Katya Hill, told CNN late Thursday that he decided to stay in Ukraine when the invasion began even as conditions deteriorated in Chernihiv.
“He was not going to leave Ira’s side in her condition,” Katya said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
“Jim was in Ukraine this time because he had gotten medicine from the United States and had found a doctor in Chernihiv that would treat her,” his sister said.
Hill’s friend Karin Moseley told the network that he and Ira had been together for about 13 years.
Katya said her brother would leave the hospital to bring back food for his partner and her mother, as well as cookies for the nurses.
“My brother was the helper that people find in a crisis,” she told CNN.
She said that when she last spoke to him the power was out, there was no heat and he said he had to preserve his cell phone battery.
“The hardest thing that we’re going to have to go through is not having that kind of closure,” Katya said, referring to not knowing where Hill’s body is.