WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- The parents of a New Zealand scientist who was 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 some time this month, had only just been confirmed to them.
They said their son worked independently and wasn't affiliated with an aid agency. They said he helped evacuate people from dangerous areas and bring food, water and medicine to others in need, and that he even fed abandoned pets.
Soledar has seen intense military action and Russia this month claimed it had retaken the salt-mining town in a rare recent victory in the 11-month conflict.
Bagshaw’s parents said Ukrainian authorities were working with officials in New Zealand and Britain, but it could take some time to get their son's body returned from where it was being held at a children’s hospital mortuary in the capital, Kyiv.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he'd yet to be officially briefed about the death but had received some preliminary information.
“I just want to extend my condolences to the Bagshaw family,” Hipkins said. “I haven't had an opportunity to convey that to them personally yet. It's obviously a very tragic situation for them."
Hipkins said that there was very limited consular support 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 travel guide.
“He was a very intelligent man, and a very independent thinker,” Phil Bagshaw said. “And he thought a long time about the situation in Ukraine, and he believed it to be immoral. He felt the only thing he could do of a constructive nature was to go there and help people.”
Phil Bagshaw said they worried for their son.
“We did try to convince him not to go,” he said. “We rapidly realized it was a waste of time.”
“We’re very, very proud of him. He was an amazing man,” Sue Bagshaw said. “He had so much talent, and he would have given so much to the research world. And he did. He had lots of papers printed, but he felt human beings were more important.”
The Bagshaws said they would be speaking out about the war in Ukraine to anybody who would listen in the hope their son's death wasn't in vain.
“We urge the civilized countries of this world to stop this immoral invasion of Ukraine, and help them to rid their homeland of an aggressor,” Sue Bagshaw said.
The Bagshaws said their son was single and is survived by a brother, two sisters, and seven nieces and nephews.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine