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New Zealander killed in Ukraine helped hundreds, parents say

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The parents of a New Zealand scientist killed in Ukraine said Wednesday he helped save hundreds of people while volunteering in the dangerous Donbas region.

Andrew Bagshaw, 47, a dual New Zealand and British citizen, was killed along with British colleague Chris Parry, 28, while attempting to rescue an elderly woman from the town of Soledar when their car was hit by an artillery shell, according to Bagshaw’s parents, Dame Sue and Phil Bagshaw.

The Bagshaws said the deaths, which occurred sometime this month, had only just been confirmed to them.

They said their son worked independently and was not affiliated with any aid organization. They said he helped evacuate people from dangerous areas and bring food, water and medicine to others in need. They said he even fed abandoned pets.

Soledar has seen intense military action, and Russia this month claimed it had recaptured the salt mining town in a rare recent victory in the 11-month conflict.

Bagshaw’s parents said Ukrainian authorities were cooperating with officials in New Zealand and Britain, but it could be some time before their son’s body is returned from where it was held in a mortuary of a children’s hospital in the capital Kiev.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he had not yet been officially notified of the death, but had received some preliminary information.

“I want to express my condolences to the Bagshaw family,” Hipkins said. “I haven’t had the chance to convey that to them personally yet. It is clearly a very tragic situation for them.”

Hipkins said very limited consular support was available in Ukraine.

Andrew Bagshaw’s parents told reporters their son was a humanitarian who had traveled to Ukraine in April with little more than a backpack and a guidebook.

“He was a very intelligent man and a very independent thinker,” said Phil Bagshaw. “And he thought long and hard about the situation in Ukraine, and he thought it was immoral. He felt that the only thing he could do of a constructive nature was to go out there and help people.

Phil Bagshaw said they were worried about their son.

“We tried to convince him not to go,” he said. “We quickly realized it was a waste of time.”

“We are very proud of him. He was a wonderful man,” said Sue Bagshaw. “He had so much talent and he would have given so much to the research world. And he did. He had a lot of papers printed, but he thought people were more important.”

The Bagshaws said they would speak of the war in Ukraine to anyone who would listen, hoping that their son’s death had not been in vain.

“We urge the civilized nations of this world to stop this immoral invasion of Ukraine and help them free their homeland from an aggressor,” said Sue Bagshaw.

The Bagshaws said their son was single and is survived by a brother, two sisters and seven cousins.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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