A Canadian front-line volunteer in Ukraine was reportedly killed by Russian shelling while on his way to help civilians, multiple non-profits say.
In a post to Instagram on Sunday, Road to Relief confirmed Anthony 'Tonko' Ihnat was killed while on his way with three other volunteers to assess the needs of civilians in the outskirts of Bakhmut, the eastern town that saw the war's longest and bloodiest battle before falling to Moscow in May.
The organization says Russian shells directly hit the car they were driving in, causing it to flip over and catch fire. Non-profits Brave to Rebuild and Paracrew Humanitarian Aid, who say Ihnat volunteered for them in the past, confirmed his death in tribute posts on social media.
Adam Oake, a volunteer from Toronto with Paracrew Humanitarian Aid, said Ihnat arrived in Ukraine in March of last year, also from Toronto. Since then, he's helped evacuate civilians and deliver essential supplies to people who'd otherwise go without, he said.
"It takes a very special person with a very strong heart to do what he did and I'm very proud of him," said Oake.
"We all miss him greatly."
In a post to Instagram on Sunday, Road to Relief confirmed Anthony 'Tonko' Ihnat was killed while on his way with three other volunteers to assess the needs of civilians in the outskirts of Bakhmut. (Submitted by Oran Mcinerney)
While not naming Ihnat, Global Affairs Canada confirmed the death of a Canadian citizen in Ukraine. Meanwhile, The United Nations' Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, confirmed the death of two foreign national volunteers.
'He was just a joy to be around'
Oake said Ihnat has been volunteering in Ukraine since March of 2022, and has recently been volunteering with another organization.
"[He] has been doing that and also doing evacuations from areas like Bakhmut and delivering water and other food supplies to people that otherwise wouldn't be able to get access to it," Oake told CBC News.
"He was just a joy to be around. He was always happy, he was always willing to work and do everything he possibly could to help people in need, always laughing and just an incredible person to be around."
According to Oake, Ihnat went to Ukraine after seeing what was going on and decided that he wanted to help, and could help.
"So, Tonko went to Ukraine to help people and that's very much what he did," he said.
'Probably the nicest guy I've ever met'
Oran Mcinerney, an aid volunteer from Ireland who knew Ihnat, said "he was probably the nicest guy I've ever met."
"Nothing fazed him. He was just there to do whatever needed to be done," McInerney told CBC News.
"He told me about his experience in Kyiv. When the war kicked off, I think it was a month or two later he came out straight away. He dropped everything, sold his belongings. He came all the way out to Ukraine and he started helping."
Ihnat was one of two foreign aid workers reportedly killed in eastern Ukraine on Sunday after Russian shelling hit a van carrying a team of four workers. (Submitted by Oran Mcinerney)
Ihnat was one of two foreign aid workers reportedly killed in eastern Ukraine on Sunday after Russian shelling hit a van carrying a team of four workers.
Road to Relief said German medical volunteer Ruben Mawick and Swedish volunteer Johan Mathias Thyr were seriously wounded in the attack.
The non-profit added that it couldn't trace the whereabouts of the van's fourth passenger, Emma Igual, a Spanish national who was the organization's director. Hours later, Spain's acting Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares told Spanish media that authorities in Madrid had received "verbal confirmation" of the 32-year-old Igual's death.