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From Kaua‘i to Ukraine: Tour ends early after tragedy

KYIV, Ukraine — American humanitarian worker Pete Reed was evacuating injured civilians in Bahkmut, Ukraine, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, when his vehicle was struck by a Russian missile.

He was killed, and three members of his team were injured in the attack.

Reed was the Ukraine country director for Global Outreach Doctors, the nongovernmental organization where Kaua‘i Dr. Allon Amitai has been serving.

Amitai entered the country with Reed a month ago, and the pair worked on the same team. The doctor said he would probably have accompanied Reed on the deadly mission if he had not been sent to Kyiv days earlier to teach medical students.

“It’s a war, and he was willing to go into danger for a cause he believed in,” wrote Amitai in a message to The Garden Island. “I respect his willingness to risk his life for others.”

Reed, 33, served two deployments in Afghanistan as a Marine Corps rifleman before founding the nonprofit Global Response Medicine in 2017. He began working with Global Outreach Doctors only recently, deploying in Janaury.

“Pete was a beacon of humanitarian work — an incredible visionary, leader, compassionate care provider, and an inspiration to us all,” said Global Outreach Doctors in a statement.

“He selflessly dedicated his life in service to others, especially those affected by disaster and war. Pete accomplished more in his 33 years than most of us in our entire lives. He leaves behind an incredible legacy.”

Maxim, a Ukrainian member of the team, suffered a broken leg and shrapnel injuries in the attack, Amitai said.

He described Maxim as a grad student who took a break from his studies to help out the cause — a great interpreter “keenly interested in tea and Asian languages and culture.” Another Ukrainian and Los Angeles trauma nurse were also wounded.

Amitai’s month in the country was marked by substantial violence, even for a war zone. He was staying in the city of Dnipro when a missile strike brought down a residential apartment building, killing at least 44 civilians.

Near Bahkmut, his team’s casualty collection point was shelled amid a bloody Russian advance. With heavy support from the Wagner mercenary group, Russian forces have been pushing to gain ground in the eastern region where Amitai was stationed.

With Reed’s death, Amitai’s tour will end a week early.

On Monday, Feb. 6, the doctor drove an ambulance from Kyiv to visit injured team members in Dnipro. He was to take the train across the border into Poland on Wednesday.

Amitai had mixed feelings about leaving the war-torn country.

“I admire the Ukrainian spirit and care about them,” said Amitai. “On the one hand, I’m glad to no longer have my life at risk. On the other, I still want to help them.”

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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