In a moment of empathy, CNN Out Front anchor Erin Burnett lost her composure but forged ahead professionally while interviewing Serhiy Perebyinis, a Ukrainian man who discovered his wife and children had been killed when he saw a photo of their bodies in a story that had been published in the New York Times.
Burnett, started the interview by asking Perebyinis, who had been out fighting Russian forces when his family died, if he had had time to bury his boy and girl and wife of 23 yers. He said he had. She then got to the even more difficult part.
“Serhiy, as a parent, any person around the world can’t imagine your unbearable loss, above all losing your children.”
Burnett, who has three children of her own, bowed her head and took a long pause.
“Could you tell me about them?” she said through tears.
“We used to see each other with my wife on Google Maps, and that morning I noticed that there was a unusual geolocation between Kyiv and their ping and then, 20 minutes later, her phone moved to another location, to a hospital in Kyiv and I suspected something was wrong,” said a stone-faced Perebyinis.
“And I asked friends to come to the hospital and find out whether there were any bad news, and then Twitter, there was news on Twitter…there was mortar shelling and that a family died: two children, their mother and their father. And then I saw a photo on Twitter and I recognized my children. I recognized their things and their clothes. And I called my friends to say, ‘The children are dead. Their bodies are lying on pavement,’ and I asked them, ‘Please could you help me to find my wife.’ “
Burnett, tears now streaming down her face, then asked Perebyinis again for a specific remembrance of his children.
“If anyone watching could learn something about Alyssa and the kids, what would you want them to know?” she said.
“They were normal children,” he told her stoically. “My son was older. He was 18 and he was in second year of university. He wanted to become an IT professional. Started programming. And my daughter was nine years old and she liked dancing, painting. She studied English. They were normal, cheerful children.”
As part of the segment, CNN reported that 103 children are known to have been killed in the war thus far, according to Ukrainian officials, though the real toll is likely much higher.
“I saw a photo on Twitter and I recognized my children.” – Serhiy Perebyinis speaks with Erin Burnett about how he found out that his wife and two children had been killed in Russian shelling. pic.twitter.com/GlPe45diWy
— CNN (@CNN) March 17, 2022
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