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James Hill: American teacher whose wife was too ill to flee Ukraine has died, Blinken confirms

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A 68-year-old American has died in the Ukraine city of Chernihiv when Russian troops attacked the city, local authorities said.

James Whitney Hill, often called Jimmy or Jim by friends, died according to several reports when Russian troops launched heavy artillery attacks on unarmed civilians.

Mr Hill’s identity was confirmed by Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, and his family.

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He had traveled to Chernihiv in December with his Ukrainian partner Ira so she could receive treatment for multiple sclerosis, friends of Mr Hill’s told an Idaho broadcaster this month. They were locked in a hospital in the city.

His sister Katya Hill told CNN that her brother was killed after buying groceries as the Russian bombardment of the city increased.

“As things got worse in town … my brother was the one who went to the store to bring back whatever food he could find,” she said.

Another sister, Cheryl Hill Gordon, said in a Facebook post that Mr Hill was waiting in a bread line with several others when they were deliberately hit by Russian gunfire.

Mr Hill posted on Facebook in his last few days, writing that his wife was admitted to intensive care. He said they wanted to leave but couldn’t find a safe passage.

Jimmy Hill, 68, died when Russian troops attacked the city of Chernihiv, northwest of Kyiv

(James Whitney Hill)

“We could try an escape tomorrow but Ira’s mother doesn’t want to,” he wrote on Facebook Monday. “Every day people are killed trying to escape. But bombs fall here at night. Either way, take a risk… I only have WiFi for a few hours a day. We have enough food for a few days.”

“Intense bombing raids. still alive,” he added a day later.

Mr Hill was found dead with his passport stating he was from Minnesota. The Wall Street Journal reported.

The State Department confirmed the death of an American on Thursday.

“We offer the family our sincerest words on their loss,” a spokesman said. “Out of respect for the family at this difficult time, we have no further comment.”

His sister, Cheryl Hill Gordon, said her brother had taught all over Europe, mostly in Ukraine, for the past 25 years. The diary reported.

His Facebook page said he taught at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv. Ms. Hill said he had two children and loved baseball and fishing.

Jimmy Hill, from Idaho, traveled to Chernihiv with his Ukrainian partner Ira in December so she could undergo treatment for multiple sclerosis

(James Whitney Hill)

Ms Hill said her brother was home over Christmas but returned to Ukraine to help Ira with treatment.

“We want to take a family with children. It’s not safe here. But it is not certain,” Mr Hill wrote on March 13.

The diary identified Mr Hill’s partner as Iryna Teslenko, but he called her Ira and noted in a social media post that she was too weak to travel.

“No photography allowed. Spies all over town. The bombing has intensified, there is no way out,” he added on March 15.

“Intense bombardment! Still alive. Limited food. room very cold. Ira in ICU,” he wrote.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

(Pictures of the Press Association)

Sibling Katya Hill said her brother only left Ira to look for food. She said she last spoke to him on March 5.

“As the bombing increased, the men in the hospital were asked if they wanted a gun. And Jim said, ‘No, I don’t carry a gun.’ And he said, ‘But if you give me a rod and some bait, I’ll try to catch some fish.’ You didn’t get his joke,” she said.

“My brother had the family sense of humor and he has kept his sense of humor except for the last few days that we have been in contact. I think he realized how bad it was getting,” she added.

“He just didn’t want to leave Ira,” she said told The diary. “He would never leave her.”

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now we are renewing our campaign and launching this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukraine crisis we urge the government to go further and faster to ensure aid is delivered. To learn more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. to sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate, then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/james-hill-american-dead-ukraine-b2038474.html James Hill: American teacher whose wife was too ill to flee Ukraine has died, Blinken confirms

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