American Photographer Survived Two Berkut Grenade Attacks in Euromaidan Revolution
...and was smuggled through police lines en route to surgery in Cologne
(COLOGNE, GERMANY) 19FEB2014 -- FedEx Airbus captain Mark Estabrook was lying in his Cologne, Germany hospital bed when his surgeon told him he couldn't guarantee he would get to keep his lower left leg. It was almost gangrene when he arrived at the hospital. Antibiotics were started through an IV drip immediately. The surgeon was more concerned about keeping his operating room sterile than he was about keeping Mark's leg intact. Estabrook was also hit with shrapnel in the right shoulder with only slight infection there.
"It's likely the Berkut contaminated the grenades before they threw them at you," the surgeon told Mark.
The first grenade ricocheted off his helmet and was immediately followed by the second which hit his lower left leg. The surplus U.S.
Army helmet and bullet proof vest most likely saved his life, as a Euromaidan protester near him bled out on the spot after a grenade hit his carotid artery.
The surgery lasted almost three hours, and yes, Estabrook got to keep his leg. But how did a FedEx pilot end up in Kyiv, Ukraine photographing the Euromaidan Revolution? It's a long story that Mark is writing for a book about his experience.
In short, the Air Force veteran was trained as a photographer at UT Austin and covered the music scene in Texas during the 1970s as part of that experience. As the events in Kyiv unfolded in the American media, he realized their narrative was simply lifted from Russian disinformation.
Estabrook grabbed a Nikon D2X, with its incredibly slow memory writing speed, a Nikon F5 with expired HP5+ and jumpseated to Europe. Technically, he was on a FedEx vacation during the revolution in Kyiv, but he was wearing his National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) ID badge while shooting in Maidan.
Mark soon learned the people who protested and fought in Maidan were good people. In fact, they saved his life. Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians grabbed the headlines. They were noted for their corrupt ways but the people who stood up to them were brave. Many people were wounded and killed. No matter what group or background they came from, they put their differences aside to snatch freedom from a corrupt regime with close ties to Moscow.
Mark is editing an online "rough cut" here from more than 1,600 photos shot in Maidan from 07-18 February 2014 for a "coffee table photography book" detailing his experience in Kyiv. There is still much work to be done before the selection, editing and layout is complete. Now retired from flying, he hopes to finish his book.
Estabrook is aware the book is not the complete picture of the revolution from anyone's perspective, even his. He wants everyone to know it was an American photographer's experience in Maidan as captured on two older cameras. The Nikon D2X was not exactly known as an action camera. The recording media could not quickly capture more than 4-5 shots before the camera would literally freeze.
He hopes to publish his book in 2022, eight years after Maidan.
THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
selected from over 1,600 photos. Each photo in the auto slideshow
advances after a 10-second pause. The collection is a rough cut. Color balancing and other editing chores have not been completed. This site will be updated when Mark finishes his large, coffee table photography book. Media queries and reprint permissions: