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American aid worker Pete Reed killed in Ukraine while helping civilians under fire, groups say

American aid worker killed in Ukraine
American aid worker killed in Ukraine 01:53

Humanitarian worker and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Pete Reed was killed while aiding civilians in Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Thursday, according to his family and two medical aid groups he worked with. Reed, who served two deployments as a Marine rifleman in Afghanistan, founded the nonprofit Global Response Medicine in 2017.

In a statement, the organization said, "Pete was the bedrock of GRM, serving as Board President for 4 years. In January, Pete stepped away from GRM to work with Global Outreach Doctors on their Ukraine mission and was killed while rendering aid." 

Andrew Lustig, the founder and president of Global Outreach Doctors USA, said Reed was working with them as the country director for Ukraine.

"Pete was actively aiding in the evacuation of Ukrainian civilians when his evacuation vehicle was hit with a reported missile in Bakhmut, Ukraine on Feb 2, 2023," Lustig said in a statement. "...Pete's death underscores the devastation war has on innocent civilians, and highlights the importance of humanitarian and medical aid for affected communities. GoDocs is committed to carrying out this work around the world in honor of Pete."

The city of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, has been the focus of intense fighting in recent weeks.

"He was evacuating citizens and responding to those wounded when his ambulance was shelled," his wife Alex Kay Potter said in a Facebook post.

Potter spoke with CBS News correspondent Debora Patta by phone as she was en route to Poland to begin the painful task of bringing her husband's body back home.

"Through a year of Mosul, time in Yemen, he's always kept everybody else around him safe," Potter said. "I heard from someone that he was protecting someone else with his body when he died." 

"He just loved everybody so well," she said. "He was really special."

Reed, 33, started his paramedic career after Hurricane Sandy hit his home state of New Jersey, Global Response Medicine said on its website. It said he also went to Northern Iraq, where he led medical teams with the Kurdish Peshmerga, and then with the Iraqi Special Forces for the duration of the battle for Mosul.

"This is a stark reminder of the perils rescue and aid workers face in conflict zones as they serve citizens caught in the crossfire," GRM Deputy Director Andrea Leiner said in a statement.

Pete Reed assists wounded in Mosul, Iraq. Global Response Medicine

Reed is the latest American to die in Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive nearly one year ago. 

Just last month, Daniel W. Swift, a Navy SEAL who was reported absent without leave, was killed in Ukraine, officials confirmed to CBS News. At least eight other Americans have been killed in Ukraine since the invasion began.

The U.S. State Department has long discouraged Americans from going to fight for Ukraine. "U.S. citizens who travel to Ukraine — especially with the purpose of participating in fighting there — they face significant risks, including the very real risk of capture or death," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said last March.

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