Chance encounter in Ukraine brings two Salt Lake City men together

Mar 28, 2022, 5:06 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 5:22 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s something about a good coffee shop that leads to even better conversations. Maybe it’s the smell or the ambiance. Or maybe it’s just a comfortable, safe place to talk about anything.

Sergey Zasukha knows all about how important safety is.

That’s why he came to this Salt Lake City coffee shop.

He couldn’t thank his new friend, Rob Sturgill, enough.

“How can you not want to meet somebody who literally saved your sister and your sister’s life, you know?” he said.

The meeting Saturday evening was the first time these two men have met. However, they have spoken to each other before on the phone.

Sturgill and his team were recently in Lviv, Ukraine, to help Ukrainians in the middle of a war.

“We showed up there to deliver some supplies,” Sturgill said to Zasukha.

One day, Sturgill, who is from Salt Lake City, was bringing medical supplies to people when he met a woman and her daughter desperate for a ride to the border.

Russian soldiers were getting closer, and she wanted to escape.

Sturgill said yes.

“As we started to visit and she was getting into the van, she mentioned she has a brother in Salt Lake City, Utah, and, you know, really? So, as we’re driving down the road, basically I said, let’s call your brother.”

Her brother is Sergey Zasukha, and it was the first time these two Salt Lake City men spoke to each other.

“It’s probably a phone call I’ll never forget,” Sturgill said. “Just to let him know that, hey, I’ve got your sister in the car, and we’re going to take care of her. And so, it was kind of a tender, tender phone call between the two of us.”

(Adam Sotelo/KSL TV) (Adam Sotelo/KSL TV) (Adam Sotelo/KSL TV) (Adam Sotelo/KSL TV)

Zasukha’s sister and niece are now safely across the border.

A few days later, Lviv was attacked and bombed by the Russian military.

“You changed the direction of somebody else’s whole generation,” Zasukha told Sturgill at the coffee shop.

“It’s very grateful to be able to be there, to be there at the right time,” Sturgill said back to him.

Coffee shops have always been places where friendships grow, and it looks like this one is going to last.

“We’ll be friends the rest of our lives because our paths have crossed,” Sturgill said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Lauren Steinbrecher

Humane Society of Utah makes adoption plea after shelter fills with dogs

The Humane Society of Utah is asking for help from the community, after finding their kennels so full they are struggling to take in any more dogs.
1 day ago
Christopher Browning in court....
Daniella Rivera & Keira Farrimond

Police were warned rapist could reoffend 24 years ago. Now he’s charged again.

A convicted rapist paroled in December faced a Utah judge today on 10 new felony charges including aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping.
1 day ago
Shooting in the Glendale neighborhood (KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

One person in critical condition in SLC shooting

One person is in critical condition from a shooting in Glendale.
1 day ago
emergency lights...
Larry D. Curtis

Utah man arrested for rape of child after toddler diagnosed with STI

A Utah man has been arrested on suspicion of rape of a 2-year-old child after she was found to have a sexually transmitted infection.
1 day ago
Utah is working on a plan to administer federal funds to reimburse food stamp fraud victims. (KSL T...
Ladd Egan

Food stamp fraud victims could be reimbursed due to new federal funding

Utah is currently submitting plans for how to administer federal funds to reimburse food stamp fraud victims.
1 day ago
Mike Anderson

Weber County Sheriff’s Office will sell off confiscated guns

The Weber County Sheriff's Office will soon start selling off some of the guns locked up in evidence.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Chance encounter in Ukraine brings two Salt Lake City men together