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Utah State University roommates help family in Kyiv escape to Finland

Posted at 7:44 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 22:01:31-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a Utah State University student from Ukraine is safe and out of the country thanks to some help from her roommate's family who lives in Finland.

Graduating senior Kristy Frank, who is a member of the volleyball team at USU was doing her homework like a regular Wednesday night when she got word that Kyiv, her home city, was under attack.

"Actually, I was scrolling through my Instagram, and I saw my friends back home and they posted videos of my city and it was these explosions and bombs," Frank said. "When I saw that my heart just dropped. That's the moment I realized that it's actually happening and everyone in Ukraine is in big danger."

Frank immediately called her family and at first, they told her they were going to stay in the city. After they saw planes flying by with bombs and heard explosions, they packed their things and decided to try and evacuate.

Read - Psychologist gives advice for dealing with anxiety about war in Ukraine

"They didn't have a bus or train or any plan. They just went outside hoping just to get somewhere further," Frank said.

Frank's family learned about a bus that was leaving the country and got on it with no plans or idea of where they might be headed. After some complications in crossing the border, her family was able to make it to Romania.

After they made it out of Ukraine, Frank didn't know what would happen next. But her roommate and best friend, sophmore Inka Mehtola, also a member of the volleyball team, has family in Finland and plans were put in place.

"My mom called me a couple of days ago, just out of nowhere, just like yeah, Kristy's friends are trying to come here," Mehtola explained. "My mom is going to pick them up from the Capitol. They're going to my place for a while and then we're going to see what's gonna be the next step."

The families connected and met up without ever meeting each other. In fact, the only time they had ever spoken was when both the girls were talking with them over Face Time.

Frank and her family were overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity of Mehtola's parents, who were practically strangers to them.

"My family when they found out that in concerns are willing to drive all the way to just come pick them up and give them place to stay, they were so amazed and just so grateful because first of all, it's even like, incredibly like lucky to find a friend like Inka," Frank said. "Then for her parents to be like another best friend to my parents is so rare and we're so grateful and just amazed by how good people are. So much help that they received."

The girls say their families successfully met up and are now all together in Finland.

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Mother of Inka Mehtola (left) and mother of Kristy Frank (right) together in Finland

The Ukranian USU student has a message for the people of Ukraine - do not give up.

"I know it's tough times but you're willing to fight and willing to show who you are and all the world is on your side," Frank said. "I believe everything will be good and God will help people we created the country to stay strong and stay Ukraine."