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Emotional reunion as Valley woman arrives in Phoenix after fleeing Ukraine

Posted at 10:19 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 00:43:19-05

TEMPE, AZ — A moment of joy after more than a week of fear. Tetiana Polishko, a Tempe resident escaping Ukraine, is back in the Valley. ABC15 first introduced Polishko and her husband last week and were with them again as they re-united Tuesday.

The reunion was what so many across the Valley hoped to see.

"It was something very anticipated. I just could not wait to see my husband and hug him. It was such a relief,” said Polishko.

Polishko left the Valley on February 9 to visit her parents in Ukraine. But, when things escalated, she knew she had to escape.

She credits her parents for helping her get out.

"It was just pure adrenaline. You don't think much about what's going on around you. You just focus to get somewhere,” added Polishko.

ABC15 followed Polishko’s journey as she rode in her parents' car for more than 20 hours in one day to cross borders, texted with her during her 25 hours in the air, and made calls to her between her four flights.

Through it all, Polishko says, she was anxious and missing her husband Gaston Jones who was here in Tempe.

"I knew that someone was waiting for me there. It was my favorite person in the world. So, there is nothing that stops you from there,” added Polishko.

Jones said, in our first report, he was not well and felt he had no control.

He says he is feeling much better now after a hug with his wife which lasted more than two and a half minutes.

"It was just something I needed. I needed it to happen," said Jones.

As for the slow walk leading up to the long-anticipated hug? Jones and Politico say they have a good reason for it.

"Yeah, she did not see me,” said Jones.

“I did not see him,” said Polishko.

“She didn't see me. I know she did not see me,” said Jones. “I was waiting!"

Polishko says escaping Ukraine without her parents, who wanted to stay there, was heart-breaking.

But, being home?

“I do not know yet. It has to take some time probably,” said Polishko. “This is my home. He's my home."

The couple's plan for the first evening together, here at home, is to cuddle with their cats.