Vasiliy Omelyanovych, a member of the 25th Ukrainian Antarctic expedition, died on May 8 at the Vernadsky Research Base in the frozen continent. The 35 year old Omelyanovych served as the chef at the station, and was described by colleagues and team members as ‘calm’ and ‘professional.’ This was the first death at the base in the expedition’s history.
“We all knew Vasiliy as a very calm, thoughtful, and good person, a real professional. This was already his fifth expedition to the Vernadsky [base]. Right now, we’re working on understanding the circumstances of his death, though it is so far clear that he took his own life due to personal issues,” stated Evgen Dykyi, the director of the National Antarctic Scientific Center, adding that they were also working on a way to bring the body back to Ukraine for the funeral, while Omelyanovych’s post would be filled on a rotating basis by the remaining expedition members.
Omelyanovych, a resident of Malin in Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region, began his trips to Antarctica in 2011, and by all accounts, loved returning. On his last post on Facebook, Omelyanovych called on people to respect the people waiting at home.
Dykyi said in a comment to BBC News Ukraine that while the Center was looking for a replacement chef, it may be difficult to get them there: due to many countries still being in a coronavirus-induced quarantine, the 25th expedition itself took over a month to get there.