December 2, 2023


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“I was absolutely convinced that I was going to die:” Journalists share with me a first-hand account of an ambush in Ukraine

“I was absolutely convinced that I was going to die:” Journalists share with me a first-hand account of an ambush in Ukraine

Dominic van Heerden and Stuart Ramsey were part of the Sky News team traveling back to Kyiv when their car was ambushed, reporters told CNN reporter Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday. Ramsay was injured when bullets pierced their car, and Van Heerden was with him trying to get help.

The team set out for a normally 30-minute drive to a Ukrainian checkpoint in a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, but eventually returned for safety reasons.

“We felt the fighting was somehow escalating,” Van Heerden said. “We started feeling a little uncomfortable and made the decision.”

Ramsay noted that the battlefield is constantly changing – roads that were safe one day may not be safe the next. The team found themselves surrounded by combat on three sides – the road they chose to walk wasn’t “cool”, but it was their only option.

Then the shooting intensified.

“It felt like I was in a washer with gunshots in it,” Van Heerden said. “Of course the car wasn’t spinning, but the bullets were everywhere.”

The two journalists were trying to hide in the car, but bullets penetrated the car.

“I was absolutely convinced I was going to die,” Ramsay said. “I didn’t think there was any chance that the number of rides that were getting into that car would keep dropping.”

Ramsay has been in cars that have been picked up before. But this, he said, was different – the bullets “mashed the car little by little.”

Ramsay was eventually injured and said he fell 20 to 30 feet on his head and likely had a concussion. There was a wound in the upper part of his leg and the bullet exited from his lower back.

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“It didn’t hurt as much as I thought, but I’m sure it was the adrenaline of course,” Ramsay said.

Van Heerden said Ramsey has shown no signs of slowing down.

“Stuart was remarkably calm, remarkably consistent,” Van Heerden said. “Considering he just got shot and considering we’ve all had this horrible experience.”

The journalists found cover and were stuck in a garage for up to four hours as the fighting raged outside.

“I have no idea what’s going on,” Ramsay said. “And there is no idea if anyone will be able to come and save us and we are now actually on the front line.”

For Van Heyerden, it was the scariest time he spent in the garage.

“We were very seated ducks and we just felt like it was completely out of our hands,” Van Heerden said. “We just survived the first round, will we make it through the second round?”

Ramsay said getting them out felt like a “miracle”, as soon as they heard the sounds of Ukrainian police running up the stairs.

“The reason we always show this story is because it happens to normal people all the time,” Ramsay said. “There is nothing exceptional about attacking us.”

Veteran Ukrainian cameraman and journalist killed near Kyiv while covering Fox News
The Sky News team was lucky – they made it. Veteran Ukrainian photographer and journalist Pierre Zakrevsky was killed while covering Fox News in March. Dealing with that loss is the hardest part of Van Heerden’s recovery.

“For the first week or so, it was kind of giddy about being alive,” Van Heerden said. “But then when you hear about your classmate being killed and you bring him home how lucky we were. And only then does it make you wonder why.”

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Ramsay, who was a close friend of Zakrzewski, could not respond.

“I’m sorry,” emotional Ramsay told Stelter. “I can’t go there.” “Sorry.”