Exclusive: Former Ukrainian war journalist shares agonizing escape from Mariupol
A former war journalist who fled Mariupol is sharing her harrowing escape from the war-torn city with News 12.
Katerina Erskaya says Mariupol was reduced to nothing, with little to eat and blood and bodies left lying on the demolished grounds.
"You can't even imagine how terrible it is when you see dead bodies of children just lying in the street," she said. "A child was lying on the ground and I just rested the child to check the pulse and I saw the child was becoming deathly white and that was a puddle of blood under the body and in that moment I understood I couldn't help the child."
Erskaya says there was no electricity, water or food - leaving civilians left in the city no choice but to drink water from street puddles and catching pigeons for nourishment.
Erskaya is a former war journalist with experience reporting in war-torn areas during Russia's invasion in Ukraine back in 2014. But she tells News 12 what she's seen while volunteering in Mariupol is indescribable.
"I decided to stay on purpose to help other people with psychological support, with food and other things," said Erskaya.
The former journalist fled the city on March 15, with family and a friend, where they went through 15 Russian checkpoints.
"Instead of approaching us to ask some questions and see our belongings, the man started shooting at us with his machine gun and actually, two bullets went through the rear into the front door and one of the bullets went just above my head and then near the driver and one of them wounded a small girl that was sitting behind me," Erskaya told News 12 through a translator.
Erskaya says she wants people to know the true realities of the horrifying scene in Mariupol and what's going on inside.
"I saw a man who was just walking and he was literally carrying his torn arm and in that moment he was in a shock state," said Erskaya.
Erskaya says nothing could prepare her for the scenes she's witnessed.