Regaining consciousness in a cloud of smoke, Simon Johnsen heard a loud whistling in his ears. He checked to see if he still had all his body parts.
Next to him, fellow medic Pete Reed was dead. So was the civilian Ukrainian woman whose injuries they had come to treat.
It was lunchtime on Thursday, February 2, in Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region and a Russian missile had struck just feet from where the two were about to administer aid.
Johnsen, a medic from Norway, and a group of other volunteers had arrived on the scene just moments earlier.
Speaking to CNN, they describe the attack as a prime example of Russia targeting medics and frontline helpers in so-called “double-taps”: hitting a target, waiting a few minutes for first responders to arrive, and then hitting the same spot again.
Video footage from the scene, shown to CNN, shows the incoming missile hitting Reed’s team’s makeshift ambulance.
Munitions experts have examined the video and identified the weapon as an anti-tank guided missile, Reed’s wife, Alex Kay Potter, told CNN after arriving back from Ukraine.
Potter believes the attack on the aid workers was the Russian military’s intent, and says that their ambulance was clearly marked.
“It wasn’t just some random artillery doubletap – they were being tracked,” she says. “They were very much targeted.”
Despite numerous strikes on medical workers and facilities over the course of this war, Russia has denied deliberately targeting civilians. The Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.