Harrowing escape: Ukrainian family arrives safely in NJ after fleeing war-torn country

Hundreds of Ukrainian families are risking their lives to escape the war-torn country. Some of them are finding their way to safety in New Jersey.

News 12 Staff

Mar 11, 2022, 3:43 AM

Updated 828 days ago

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Hundreds of Ukrainian families are risking their lives to escape the war-torn country. Some of them are finding their way to safety in New Jersey.
One of those families is a mother and her two children. It took four days to make it from Ukraine to Rumson. They are now safe with relatives.
Tanya Yaremchuck tells News 12 New Jersey that she knew it was time to leave Ukraine when the Russian bombs started to shake her house. But she says that simply taking to the streets in Kyiv can get a person killed. She did it in the family SUV, driving 21 hours before reaching some sense of safety.
Yaremchuck is now safe in Rumson with her son Hlib and daughter Masha. She spoke with News 12 through her relative Julie Nagornyi acting as a translator.
“By the time she decided to go, they are spending most of the day in the basement hiding from the missiles,” Nagornyi said for Yaremchuck.
It was a decision made more difficult because Yaremchuck’s husband Dimitri is not allowed to leave Ukraine. Adult men young enough to fight must stay.
Yaremchuck and her children risked their lives by simply getting in their car and driving west. Hundreds of civilians have died.
“We did not know where there could be an explosion,” Yaremchuck said.
“She saw signs that said there are mines. Don't park, there are mines on the side [of the road.] Saw a lot of military vehicles passing by,” Nagornyi said.
Yaremchuck would drive for 21 hours in the family SUV, leaving Kyiv and heading west for the border with Moldova. She drove through blockades, checkpoints, and snow. After making it to Moldova, the family traveled to Bucharest where they boarded a plane for New Jersey.
“For my children, they are very happy here. They are calm, not jumping up thinking they need to hide,” Yaremchuck said.
But Yaremchuck and the children are dealing with post-traumatic stress. The noise of a nearby construction site can resemble gunfire, creating anxiety.
Yaremchuck and her children will now stay with the Nagornyi family. It is now a house full of seven, with the boys sleeping on donated bunk beds.
“Our fridge is not too big. But I feel like adrenaline just keeps you going,” Nagornyi says.
The family is safe, but Yaremchuck says that she is always in contact with her husband – always checking that he is OK.
“Right now, I can’t think of going back. In the future, I don’t know if there will there be a home for me to return,” she says.
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine failed on Thursday. Yaremchuck says she wants to believe that peace is possible but says that things seem to be getting worse.


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