A hardworking father who fled war-torn Ukraine is killed by a drunk driver

A 40-year-old married father of two who fled war-torn Ukraine to give his family a better life has been killed on a North Carolina highway by a drunk driver.

Yuriy Vakhnyak, remembered by a family friend as a “big, fluffy, friendly teddy bear,” was loading cars for his vehicle-shipping business along Interstate-70 on March 13 when he was struck and killed, according to local reports.

“He was a good man who gave everything he had to his friends and family,” says Alex Blum. for WNCT-TV last week.

Online fundraising page It was set up to pay for Vakhniak’s funeral and described the father as “kind, optimistic, happy and cheerful” and said he had moved to the United States “as a result of the war in Ukraine to provide a better life for himself and his family”.

Vakhniak found work in the transportation industry and started a company, Anastasia Services Inc. , named after his daughter, Bloom told WNCT-TV.

“These men work day and night to provide for their families, grow businesses and realize the American dream,” Bloom said.

“They didn’t come here to die. They came here to escape death.”

The 26-year-old driver accused of killing Vakhnyak, Sidna Ndiaye, has been charged with felony murder by car, police said, according to the outlet.

Police said Sedna Ndiaye was charged with the vehicular murder.
Johnston County Sheriff’s Office

Ndiaye was alleged to have been driving with a revoked licence, and already had three prior drunken driving, one from 2015 and two others still pending.

“We are all shocked that this person is still on the streets,” Bloom said. “We want to make sure he doesn’t kill another friend.”

Bloom said Vakhniak was carrying vehicles from Front Line Motors in Clayton Township on a three-card truck he was delivering to Tennessee when he was killed.

An online fundraising page to help the Vakhniak family had raised more than $28,000 by Sunday evening.

“Every penny raised by this fundraiser will go towards paying for Yuri’s funeral arrangements and to help his family live without him,” the page read. “If possible, his family would like to transport his body to Ukraine for burial.”

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