The Ukrainian schoolgirl who died after being found unconscious on a beach in Devon had ‘local friends’ and loved life in Britain.
Albina Yevko, 14, lived with a host family and her mother in Dawlish after fleeing Ukraine after the Russian invasion a year ago.
But the teen, who attended a local school, was found on a beach on Saturday night after being reported missing. Albina was airlifted to hospital in Exeter but later died. Her death is being treated as unexplained.
A friend of the family in Ukraine said: ‘Albina and her mother Inna fled to the UK almost immediately after the outbreak of war. We are all so shocked by the news from the UK.
‘All was well with them in Britain. I know that Albina started speaking English, not too confidently, but she understood it well after a year or so.
Inna Yevko with her daughter Albina as a child in Ukraine. She spoke about her heartbreak today
Albina Yevko, 14, lived in Dawlish after fleeing Ukraine with her mother after Russia’s invasion
“She went to a local school.”
Speaking from Albina’s home town of Kryvyi Rih, the friend said: ‘I know they both got used to their lives in Britain and loved it.
‘Albina has gained local friends. I saw a girl in a picture with the family who sheltered them in the UK…..so I was happy for Albina.’
In Ukraine, the tragic girl had done well in school before the war.
“She went to a music school and played the piano. I can’t say if she graduated, but she definitely played the piano. She was so nice and always smiling,” the friend added.
Earlier, her mother Inna Yevko said in a statement from Devon and Cornwall Police: ‘Myself and my family are devastated that we have lost our beautiful Albina. Nothing can ever replace her in our hearts. We ask that our privacy be respected at this incredibly painful time.”
Police received reports of a missing teenage girl in Dawlish on Saturday night
Police near the beach where Albina was found on Saturday
Police were called when the “kind and caring” teen was reported missing on Saturday night.
Searches by a police helicopter and Coast Guard tracked Albina to a beach in the city where she was found unconscious. She later died at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
Officers said they continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death, but it was not considered suspicious.
Sam Banks, headteacher at Dawlish College, where Albina was a Year 9 student, paid tribute to the teenager.
He said: “Everyone in our school community is devastated to learn of Albina’s tragic death.
“Our thoughts are with Albina’s family and loved ones at this time and we have extended our deepest condolences and support to them.
“Albina will be greatly missed by all who knew her, and we have established ongoing emotional support and signage for staff and students affected by this terrible news.
“We would like to respect and reiterate the family’s request to respect their privacy at this incredibly painful time.”
Ms Yevko and her daughter Albina moved to Dawlish after war with Russia broke out a year ago
Searches by a police helicopter and coast guard tracked the teenager down to a beach in the city and she was airlifted to Royal Devon and Exeter hospital
The community is shocked by her discovery.
Viktoriia Zviholska, 38, a cleaner said she arrived in Dawlish from Ukraine in May last year and became good friends with the family.
She said, “I want to honor the memory of my friend’s daughter from Ukraine.
“She was not only young, but also very smart, clever, interesting, she loved to draw.
‘She was a good person. I can’t believe this could happen to her. We are all a society and we have stereotypes. That this person is more likely to be in such a story. This is the law of regularity. But what happened to Albina is complete nonsense.
“Albina always discussed with her mother what she would do and where she would go.
‘Thanks to all the UK services for responding so quickly to the search request.
“It is a pity that medicine has not had time to help. Please help us find out what happened so we can warn everyone that no mistakes were made, not only with Ukrainian children, but also with English children.
‘I have known this family since May last year. We met here. They were lucky enough to live with their host family.
‘They loved England. Inna is a specialist in the IT industry. She had a job.
‘Albina was looking forward to the new school. Maybe I found new friends. We met for lunch together. We celebrated the New Year together.
Inna Yevko (R) mother of Albina Yevko pictured with her friend Viktoriia Zviholska (L), who revealed they came to Dawlish last May
‘I found good people in it. I only have good memories of our time together.’
Other members of the local community in Dawlish have also continued to pay tribute.
A local worker, a Red Cross worker, said, “It breaks your heart considering everything her family has been through.
‘How much must a person endure.
‘As a community we are all incredibly sad’
A local tea room worker added: ‘It’s desperately sad. She has come so far from Ukraine and now this has happened.
“We welcome Ukrainians to Dawlish and our hearts go out to the family. It’s terrible news and hard to keep your wits about you.’
A parent whose son attended Dawlish College with Albina said all students had been sent a letter about the tragedy.
She said, ‘My son is two years younger than the girl, but goes to school. I read the top of the letter from the school and burst into tears. As a mother, you put yourself in the same position.
“We fled Ukraine to come here, the whole story is just tragic.”