William Hubbard rescues stranded American grandson from Ukraine with Daring Mountain Trek

A 9-month-old American boy stranded at the Ukrainian border for more than a week is finally safe after his family hatched a plan to cut the red tape that had trapped him and his mother in a war zone .

“We crossed the border,” baby Seraphim’s mother sent her father, Dr. William Hubbard, from a Slovak village on Saturday. “And the police came to get us and everyone was so nice to us.”

Hubbard, the child’s grandfather, flew from his home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, to Ukraine when war broke out last month. After working for weeks to save Seraphim and her daughter, Aislinn, 19, Hubbard decided he had had enough of the protocol tangle blocking the couple’s exit.

So, he told The Daily Beast on Monday, he and Aislinn’s boyfriend, Seraphim’s father, plotted another escape route for the family through “the wilderness and foothills of the Alps of the Carpathians” using satellite maps.

After two training sessions on Thursday and Friday, Aislinn and her partner headed off into the mountains, carrying the baby between them. Hubbard anxiously watched their progress on the Find My Friends app.

The reason behind the Hubbards’ desperate bid for freedom was maddeningly simple: Seraphim had no birth certificate. Aislinn, who moved to Kyiv to study ballet aged 16, gave birth at home last June. She was afraid her baby would contract COVID-19 in a hospital, where he would have automatically received a birth certificate.

Worried that Russia continued to amass troops on the Ukrainian border, Hubbard first alerted US officials to a potential problem in December.

“I said, ‘Hey, here’s the situation, we have this little boy who doesn’t have a birth certificate,'” Hubbard told the Beast last week. get one. What are you going to do in case war breaks out? And they said, ‘I don’t know.’

After flying to Ukraine in early February to retain an attorney and watch over his daughter, Hubbard returned safely to his home in Fitchburg on February 23. A few hours later, Russia invaded.

As Aislinn and her boyfriend rushed to keep their baby safe, Hubbard turned and came back to meet them. Faced with a ‘scary nightmare’ unfolding around them, the family packed their bags and headed for the Slovakian border, after being told by US Embassy officials that they would have no problem to overcome.

But Ukrainian officials at the border were baffled by the absence of the document and placed them in a detention center. They then offered to let the Hubbards pass – without the Seraphim.

“And we’re like, ‘Are you freaking out?'” Hubbard recalled.

Released from detention in Ukraine, Aislinn and Seraphim were now battling dysentery. And with U.S. officials reportedly responding to Hubbard’s increasingly desperate pleas with little more than shrugs, the grandfather decided enough was enough.

Aislinn and her boyfriend started their hike around 2 p.m. Saturday, according to Hubbard. They walked for about five or six hours, he estimated, as the sun set and the cold set in. At one point, Aislinn and Seraphim slipped down a small ravine, ending up in a river, soaked but unharmed.

For the last hour or two, the family walked “in complete darkness through the forest”, he said. Then they reached the Slovak village.

The couple walked into what they thought was a small corner store. “It turned out to be a bar,” Hubbard said, “and everyone was staring at them.” The tavern’s Ukrainian-speaking inhabitants helped the couple surrender to the authorities.

Slovak police obtained spare clothes for Aislinn and Seraphim, Hubbard said. Within hours, they also received three sets of documents from the European Union offering them temporary protection.

Meanwhile, Hubbard had made his way to the official border checkpoint that had previously denied the family. Dragging five duffel bags, two cat carriers and a backpack for a mile and a half at 50-foot intervals was slow, he said.

After Ukrainian authorities delayed him at the border for more than an hour, they finally let him through. Exhausted, he checked into a hotel in the town of Kosice, the family’s planned meeting point.

He didn’t think Aislinn and her grandson would show up until the next day, having assumed that the Slovak authorities would drag their feet in dealing with them. “But she called me around 6:30 a.m. and said, ‘Hey, they released us,'” Hubbard recalled. “’We’re going to take a taxi. We should be there in about an hour and a half.

Hubbard went downstairs and booked another hotel room. “And everything was fine,” he said.

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