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San Diegans worry for family, co-workers in Ukraine

San Diegans worry for family, co-workers in Ukraine
Posted at 4:45 PM, Feb 25, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As hostilities escalate, San Diegans with family and co-workers in Ukraine wait and worry.

Encinitas resident Inna Zozulyak says her sister Sofia and her husband were woken up at 5 a.m. Kyiv time Thursday by the sound of sirens and blasts, prompting them to get into their car.

“A huge gridlock in Kyiv of people just trying to leave the city and go to safety, while sirens were wailing, artillery was shooting, and bombs were dropping,” said Zozulyak. “It’s like you're praying you're not going to get hit. That was emotional for her and me.”

The couple drove west, to a small town in Western Ukraine.

“They drove for 30 hours to make it to safety,” said Zozulyak.

While the two remain together, others have separated. Maresa Friedman is Chief Strategy Officer for The Executive Cat Herder, a Sorrento Valley-based marketing strategy firm.

Four of her freelance web developers and graphic designers are holed up in their office in Kyiv.

According to reports, Ukraine has banned men ages 16 to 60 from leaving the country.

“Very anxious. It’s just this waiting game,” said Friedman.

Friedman says their wives and children have made it to Poland. One family took public transportation.

“She has a newborn and two toddlers, and left with a backpack and her children,” said Friedman.

Anton is a web developer who has worked with Friedman. Over Zoom, he showed ABC 10News the dimly lit view from his sixth-floor apartment in southern Kyiv. He's careful to keep the light off.

“Trying to keep them off in the evening, so no attention to strike the houses,” said Anton.

Anton is hunkering down with his wife, a 7-month-old girl, and a shotgun. Every few hours, the air sirens blare, and his family and others in the apartment complex head to a below-ground storage area.

“Always adrenaline … We have to get below ground. It’s scary sometimes,” said Anton.

Anton says he hear the sounds of rocket blasts all day and night. His family has enough food and water for a few weeks.