BELLEVUE, Wash. — As Russia closed in on Bakhmut, a hot spot area in the current phase of the war, 29-year-old Yana Rykhlitska rushed in to help.
Rykhlitska was a volunteer paramedic and military officer killed Friday during a mortar attack on an ambulance.
For Sergei Dreizen it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that Rykhlitska is gone.
“I still can not say was," Dreizen said. "It’s really really hard."
Dreizen is the CEO and co-founder of Akvelon, a Bellevue-based software engineering company with offices around the world including Ukraine; where Rykhlitska was working when she decided to fight back for her country.
“She's tiny but incredibly strong," Dreizen said. "She did martial arts, had a huge heart and an even bigger soul. She wasn't afraid of anything."
As soon as Russia invaded Ukraine, Rykhlitska left to volunteer as a military paramedic.
“If you want to build a country that's the kind of people you want,” Dreizen said.
Rykhlitska is the second employee of Dreizen to die in a mortar attack while fighting for Ukraine. Dreizen helped Rykhlitska and others on the front lines by sending military and medical equipment.
Valeriia Zaychenko became friends, then co-workers with Rykhlitska while she was living in Ukraine before the war.
“She was like, cracking jokes and dreaming and living her life to the fullest," Zaychenko said.
Zaychenko said Rykhlitska loved cats, her favorite place was Brazil and she was planning her future.
“I’m always going to remember her as a person with desire to live, to support other people, being brave, and doing something that not every one of us can do,” Zaychenko said.
Rykhlitska is not the only hero fighting for freedom. Zaychenko hopes people help Ukraine in her friend's honor.
You can help by donating to United with Ukraine.