“He was not going to leave Ira’s side in her condition,” Hill’s sister Katya told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “Jim was in Ukraine this time because he had gotten medicine from the United States and had found a doctor in Chernihiv that would treat her.”
Hill was among dozens of civilians killed by the Russian onslaught Thursday in Chernihiv.
Ukrainian police said he died during artillery fire. His sister told CNN the family didn’t get specifics about his death from the US embassy.
Hill often traveled to Ukraine yearly to visit his partner, according to his longtime friend Karin Moseley. They had been together for around 13 years, she told CNN.
His Facebook posts throughout March chronicled the worsening situation in Chernihiv, detailing air raid sirens, daily explosions and an “orange sky over the city” amid fires. His final entry read: “Bombing has intensified noway (sic) out.”
Katya Hill said her brother would leave the hospital where Ira and her mother were to bring back what food he could find. He’d bring back cookies for the nurses. He gave out to chocolate to people who needed encouragement.
“My brother was the helper that people find in a crisis,” she told CNN.
Hill told his sister on Facebook messenger that the Ukrainian people were very patient and when they lined up for food or supplies — they would only take what they needed.
On social media, he described feeling helpless, hungry and freezing as he narrated an increasingly dangerous war.
On March 8, his post began: “Intense bombing last night for 2 hours. It was close to hospital. Machine gun fire could be heard. It stopped just after midnight.”
On Monday, he wrote, “we are hanging in there…very coold (sic) inside. food portions are reduced..bombing and explosions most of the night..hard to sleep. People getting depressed.”
Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen Thursday that indiscriminate Russian attacks had been intensifying. “Basically, we are not speaking here about (targeting) military infrastructure. They are destroying residential buildings, schools, kindergartens,” he said.
The last time Katya Hill spoke with Jimmy the electricity was out and there was no heat, she said. Her brother told her he had to preserve his cell phone battery.
The family cannot reach Ira’s mother and presumes her phone has lost its charge.
Hill said the family doesn’t know where her brother’s body is.
“The hardest thing that we’re going to have to go through is not having that kind of closure,” she said.
CNN’s Paradise Afshar, Amanda Jackson, Andy Rose and Andrew Carey contributed to this report.