Utah man rents car, drives into Ukraine to transport refugees fleeing the country

Mar 9, 2022, 2:26 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:33 pm

LVIV, Ukraine— A Spanish Fork man was able to transport 14 Ukrainians to Poland in a rental car during his three-day trip to the war-torn area. 

David Gashler felt compelled to help as his wife is a native of Ukraine, he speaks the language and had once called the country home.

“I could’t watch that go on without doing something,” he said. “I couldn’t watch the country I love being obliterated.”

He purchased an airline ticket to Poland and reserved a rental car shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. He brought with him donations and funds from Utahns who wanted to help.

The sight of desperation is something he will never forget, recalling the long lines of people on foot and in cars hoping to cross the border.

“These people are starting their lives completely over,” he said. “They have no idea where they are going.”

His first trip was a successful one shuttling a mom and her daughters who left dad behind to fight in the war.

After dropping them off, Gashler went back into Ukraine and headed toward the central bus station in Lviv. While there he was able to find two men looking to book bus tickets for their wives and children. One of the mothers was pregnant.

“She was around 7 to 8 months pregnant and she did not want to have her baby in a bomb shelter,” he said.

Gashler said that journey was a heartbreaking one as he watched the husbands say their goodbyes.

“They went on their way. I mean they’re going to be joining the military, they have no choice,” he said.

For his final trip he went to a refugee camp, walked around and found more people in need.

“I said ‘who wants to go anywhere in Poland’ basically and that’s when I got six people, two cats and a dog,” Gashler said.

Among the group was a mother and her two kids whose lodging in Poland fell through.

“They immediately started crying not knowing where they were going to go,” he said. “The younger daughter said ‘can we just go back home to Ukraine?’”

Gashler used funds donated by Utahns to buy them a 10-day stay at a hotel. 

He said the most difficult part of the trip was leaving without helping more people escape.

“Coming home is the hardest part of it. I told my wife I didn’t want come home and I wanted stay and accomplish more,” he said.

Gashler hopes to return to the border to shuttle more people out in the next couple of weeks.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

a finger pushing a button on a fire alarm...

Brianna Chavez

Red Cross of Utah sees increase in smoke alarm installation requests, in need of volunteers

The Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross said it has seen in increase in requests for free smoke alarm installations. The need is so great, more volunteers are needed.

1 hour ago

Neighbors are still picking up the pieces of a high-speed crash last Thursday that caused extensive...

Garna Mejia

Last week’s high-speed crash has neighbors trying to sort things out

Neighbors are still picking up the pieces of a high-speed crash last Thursday that caused extensive property damage in Salt Lake City's East Liberty Park neighborhood.

1 hour ago

Overlook of Maze Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. (Kait Thomas/National Park Service)...


Pilots flying tourists over national parks face new rules

Fewer airplanes and helicopters will be flying tourists over Mount Rushmore and other national monuments and parks as new regulations take effect that are intended to protect the serenity of some of the nation's most beloved natural areas.

1 hour ago

Avalanche Awareness Week is coming at a critical time after some areas in the mountains of Utah got...

Dan Rascon

Avalanche Awareness Week provides training for those going into the backcountry

Avalanche Awareness Week is coming at a critical time after some areas in the mountains of Utah got more than 4 feet of new snow as a result of the weekend storm.

1 hour ago

Search and rescue crews lifting the man to the top of the cliff. (Grand County Sheriff's Search and...

Michael Houck

BASE jumper hauled from 200 foot cliff face after landing incorrectly near Moab

A 33-year-old man needed rescuing after a BASE-jumping accident near Moab on Nov. 29. 

2 hours ago

McKinney Texas Temple Site Location. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)...

Michael Houck

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces McKinney Texas Temple site

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a name change and the location for a temple near North Dallas, Texas, on Monday. 

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utah man rents car, drives into Ukraine to transport refugees fleeing the country