CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – American filmmaker, Brent Renaud, was killed in Ukraine on Sunday when Russian forces opened fire on his vehicle.
According to AP, the 50-year-old Arkansas native was gathering material for a report about refugees when his vehicle was hit at a checkpoint in Irpin, just outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Renaud was known for braving the most dangerous conflict zones for the sake of accurate journalism.
The incident quickly became a big story in the United States, was noted by the White House and covered by major news outlets including CBS, The New York Times and NBC. The breaking news videos quickly spread across the internet, and some eagle-eyed West Virginians on Twitter noticed a link to their home state.
NBC footage of the car that was attacked by Russian forces shows a West Virginia inspection sticker on the windshield right next to a bullet hole. The sticker is from September of 2021, meaning it expired only six months ago.
Twitter has come alive with questions about the car and the sticker. The car is labeled as an Uber on the side and appears to be a Toyota Prius from the 2010 to 2015 generation, although that is not confirmed.
So, how does a Pruis from West Virginia, or at least a West Virginia windshield, end up in the middle of a war in eastern Europe?
It is possible to buy a used American car in Ukraine. Several auto auction locations offer used American cars for auction in Ukraine, so while it seems strange, it is possible that someone in Ukraine purchased the car used from West Virginia.
And although it would be difficult, it is also possible to transport an American car to Ukraine.
The eye-catching West Virginia inspection sticker is only a slight distraction from the bullet hole next to it.
In a war that can sometimes feel far away, the death of an American journalist feels like a snap to reality for many Americans. And now, the presence of a West Virginis relic at the site of his deaths brings the war much closer to West Virginia.
A Facebook post from a Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebytov said, “Of course, the profession of a journalist is a risk, but U.S. citizen Brent Renaud paid his life for trying to highlight the aggressor’s ingenuity, cruelty, and ruthlessness,” Nebytov wrote.
For a list of ways that you can help Ukraine from right here in West Virginia, click here.