Ukrainian woman escapes Lviv, reunites with daughters at SFO airport

There was an emotional reunion for a Bay Area Ukrainian family at SFO airport Friday evening.

Halyna Tayler escaped from Lviv and came to the U.S. to be with her daughters. She said it was a difficult decision to leave Ukraine.

A KTVU crew caught up with daughter Olga Taber of San Jose as she waited for her mother to arrive.

"Very anxious and excited," said Olga with her sister Miriam Tayler by her side. "Nothing is safe in Ukraine right now. No place is safe there. We were hoping mom would decide to come and she did make that decision."

At 6 p.m., Halyna emerged from customs.

She was warmly embraced by her daughters after a long and emotional journey to the U.S. that began Wednesday. 

Halyna spoke with KTVU in Russian and daughter Olga translated.

"She feels good, but she's worried about the country, her mom, her son, her job. Everybody that she knows is there," said Olga.   

Halyna left Lviv in western Ukraine where she lived and worked as an accountant. A co-worker drove her to the border and Halyna said she crossed over to Poland on foot.   

"There are lots of people crying at the border because they don't know if they'll be back or not," Halyna said she wasn't scared as she embarked on this journey to safety and believes Ukraine will win.

"We are hoping that these horrors will end soon," said Halyna.

Olga said she's grateful that her mother had a visa to come to the U.S. prior to Russia's invasion.

She said she's thinking about all the Ukrainians still suffering in her homeland and elsewhere. "There are so many people still stranded. A lot of them are in Poland and other eastern European countries with no place to go, wondering what's next."  

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Now that Halyna is here in the U.S., her heart is still in Ukraine. She's concerned for her elderly mother and  her son who may be called to serve in the Ukraine military.  Still, she said she's glad to be here in California with her daughters.

"America is a very beautiful country," Halyna said she doesn't plan to stay in the U.S. for long.   

She wants to return to Ukraine as soon as it's safe to do so.

 Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU