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“Born Under a Lucky Star”: Story of Lviv Volunteers Caught in a Missile Attack in Dnipro

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Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukrainian volunteers have been working at their limits to provide everything the military needs. They collect tens of millions of hryvnias, procure the much-needed pickup trucks and SUVs, and look for scarce but crucial copters, thermal imagers, and protective gear. They constantly risk their lives, making hundreds of trips to hot spots. 

A group of volunteers from Lviv was among them. On July 15, however, the deadly danger they faced was not in a combat zone, but in the middle of the street in the relatively peaceful (in the current sense) city of Dnipro.

At that moment I thought, “God, I want to live so much.”

Yuriy Brianchyk is now 27 years old, eight of which are closely tied to the war. Brianchyk was a volunteer and fought until 2017 when an anti-tank missile hit his position. Yuriy received a concussion, but still returned to the frontlines, this time as a volunteer. Together with his colleagues from Lviv, Bryanchyk provides the soldiers with everything they need.

On the evening of July 15, the volunteers, having handed over a car to the military, were on their way to their next destination. At that moment the Russians began launching missiles at Dnipro. One of the missiles struck the road where the Lviv volunteers were driving. 

Yuriy was behind the wheel of a compact truck (pictured below), whose former owner used to transport furniture, and after February 24, he gave the vehicle to the military. 

“Just before the impact there was a flash – our air defense shot down the first missile I saw. There was a flash and fragments came flying down. At that moment I thought, “God, I want to live so much more than ever.” I had already realized that it was a missile strike. At that moment a missile hit me in the trailer, sending me flying, the airbag went off and hit me in the chest. I did not understand what happened. I saw a flash in front of me and thought an angel had embraced me. I said, “God, I’ve been hugged by an angel so hard I can’t breathe.” Perhaps his embrace helped me survive,” Yuriy Brianchyk recalled. 

There was little time to think, the car was in a two-meter crater, and everything around it was on fire.

“I realized my door was jammed and I couldn’t get out from my side. I couldn’t get out through the windshield because the fire was hitting it. It was still protecting me, too, because it held on. I realized I had to get out through the passenger seat. But the door was also jammed, it was closed… I broke the side window and got out into that pit. I saw that the water was starting to boil and I knew I had a second to get out of that pit. I got out, and looked around, dodging falling shrapnel. Iron, bricks, and glass were falling from above,” Yuriy continued his story.

Pieces of glass injured the volunteer’s arm. Yuriy also suffered a concussion and bruises to his chest and ribs. He still has difficulty breathing. “I’m lucky. My brothers joke that I surpassed Oleksa Dovbush: “Bullets didn’t take him, but missiles don’t take you,‘” said the volunteer.

“It was just one second, that’s all.”

With Yuriy, there were four other cars and six people in the convoy. Three of the cars were intended for the military and miraculously survived. The fourth, a car belonging to volunteer Yevhen Soltys, burned to the ground. 

He used the car for work and family needs. Furthermore, he used it to transport spare parts for AFU vehicles, which he also repaired himself. According to Soltys, the car’s low gas consumption and reliability made it convenient for frontline travel.

“You know, all that fire around and ringing in my ears, it was just one second and that was it. I realized I had to brake instantly. I’m braking, the car’s not braking. I want to get out of the car, but I can’t get out, because the momentum is too strong… Meanwhile, the fire instantly enveloped us. It went as far as the windshield and there was so much smoke as if it was a blowtorch… Everything was aflame,” said Yevhen Soltys

Next to Yevhen in the car was Serhiy Dziadyk

“Our car was the first. [The missile] actually hit behind us, 5-7 meters away, but we were carried another 20 meters by the fire wave… I was pushed forward by the shockwave, the seatbelt strained. I quickly got my bearings, put the car in reverse, the belt slacked a little, and on the third attempt, I managed to unbuckle it. I did it two seconds faster than Yevhen. My ears and neck burned, but not as much as his,” added Serhiy.

Once out of the flames, the men rushed to look for each other. According to them, the greatest happiness was to see everyone alive. 

“It’s like a shared birthday… The fire was moving our way, and the shrapnel flew toward the houses and the bus driver, who, as it turned out later, died. Thank God our guys laid down and waited it out,” said Dziadyk.

This was Lviv volunteers’ 18th trip to the frontlines since the full-scale invasion began, and their 69th since 2014. Until victory is won, they will continue to deliver everything the military needs. You can also donate to the fundraiser for the purchase of cars, which the guys will use to transport ammunition and goodies to the front.

Official information

According to Valentyn Riznychenko, head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration, six missiles were fired at Dnipro on the evening of July 15. Four of them were shot down by the air defense forces, however, two missiles hit an industrial enterprise and a nearby street.

According to the Air Command East, Russian Kh-101 missiles were launched from Tu-95MS strategic bombers from the northern part of the Caspian Sea. 

The Main Directorate of the State Emergencies Service in the Dnipropetrovsk Region reported that windows and doors were broken in nearby residential buildings as a result of the missile strike. Ten cars were damaged and two more burned down (the cars of the Lviv volunteers). 15 people were slightly or moderately injured, and three people were killed. Among the dead is a driver of a minibus, which was mentioned by the volunteers. The man, who had finished his working day, was just on his way to the motor pool. 

Maryana Sych

This article was produced by Bihus.Info as part of the program “Supporting Ukraine’s Regional Media in Times of War” with the financial support of the European Union and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Norway. The content is the sole responsibility of Bihus.Info and does not reflect the views of the European Union, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

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