NewsLocal News


Engineer for San Diego firm loses family member to violence in Ukraine

San Diego engineer's family member killed in Ukraine
Posted at 4:06 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 20:15:05-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A software engineer for a local company, whose flight home to Ukraine was canceled by the Russian invasion, has lost a family member to the violence.

Amid the images of deadly attacks in Ukraine, Oleksander isn't sleeping much.

“Anxious, and I’m worried all the time about my family and my friends,” said Oleksander.

On the day of the Russian invasion, Oleksander was headed home to Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city and one of the most heavily shelled areas.

A week prior, Oleksander, a software engineer for a Miramar-based Blueboard, which designs experiential employee recognition programs, was in San Diego working.

As he boarded a connecting flight home in New York, the invasion began.

“The flight was canceled. I was shocked and confused, but also, I was expecting something like this to happen sooner or later considering the situation in the news,” said Oleksander.

Oleksander ended up in the firm's San Francisco office, where he's living—and worrying.

"I'm feeling really guilty, you know this guilt of the survivor. I’m completely safe here, while my family and friends are under fire,” said Oleksander.

His 11-year-old son, who is with his ex-wife, traveled to western Ukraine, where things are calmer. His siblings and parents remain near Kharkiv.

Minutes before our interview, he learned that his sister's brother-in-law, Sergey, in his 50s and living in an apartment complex in the northern part of the city, was killed.

“One of those rockets hit the building directly,” said Oleksander.

Also staying in that complex was his nephew, Vitalii, in his late teens.

“No word from my nephew. I am preparing myself psychologically for the worst, to be honest,” said Oleksander. “I just hope and pray, and I'm not religious person, that Kharkiv will be safe.”

Blueboard has more than 30 other employees in Ukraine, most of them in Kharkiv.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the employees and their families with expenses.

Oleksander says his family doesn’t want to leave the country. He’s skeptical about the ‘humanitarian corridor’ agreed upon by Ukraine and Russia, but if it safe, he’s hoping his family can safely leave Kharkiv.