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Valley native flees Ukraine after Russian invasion

2 years 3 weeks 2 days ago Sunday, March 27 2022 Mar 27, 2022 March 27, 2022 2:49 PM March 27, 2022 in News - Local

A former Brownsville resident shared his family's personal journey out of Ukraine.

The Leinart family were forced to flee the country and sought refuge in Romania just six days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

"My initial plan was just, get the heck out of here, out of the country, and get somewhere safe," Kyle Leinart said. "I need a place for my wife to deliver the baby safely." 

Leinart, an American citizen, was living in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv with his pregnant wife Maria and two children when the Russians invaded the country. 

"Right around 5:15 in the morning, I just heard this massive, massive explosion," Leinart recalls. "Just boom, boom, boom, boom, and it shook the windows, the car alarms near my house started to go off." 

Packing a single suitcase each, the family left on the war's sixth day, heading to a train station. 

"My wife had to stand almost the whole time, but some lady was very nice and gave her a small place to sit," he says. "I stood on the train for almost 10 hours, and it was a very difficult train ride."

The family fled to the closest country possible, Romania. There, they welcomed a baby girl, Julia, named after a Romanian woman who helped them find housing, food, and other necessities. 

"We pretty much came with the clothes on our backs," Leinart said. "The good people of Romania have helped us out tremendously. It's unbelievable."

The family is in the process of obtaining visas in hopes of moving to the United States. 

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