Malaysia Airlines MH17: Michael Bociurkiw talks about being first at the crash site

Ukrainian-Canadian OSCE monitor Michael Bociurkiw talks to CBC News about his emotional experiences at the grisly crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

Michael Bociurkiw was among the very first people to reach the Malaysian jet's wreckage

OSCE monitor on MH17 disaster

9 years ago
Duration 8:19
Featured Video'I don't think there's ever been a crash like this,' says Michael Bociurkiw. 'And it's just something that will always stay with us.'

A personal handwritten note penned by a passenger reminding themselves to stay on budget during their vacation. Scientific literature belonging to a passenger en route to a major international AIDS conference in Australia. 

These are just a few of the things that Michael Bociurkiw, a Ukrainian-Canadian monitor with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has seen up close at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

Bociurkiw and one other colleague were the first international monitors to reach the wreckage after the jet was shot down over a rebel-held region of eastern Ukraine July 17. 

With no other oversight on scene, the two men became the de facto eyes and ears of all those who watched in horror from around the world. More than ten days later, he's still one of a select group of individuals who has been to crash site almost daily.

"Under the hot sun, we've seen horrific things," he told CBC's Susan Ormiston in an emotional interview Monday. "Things that we'll never talk about to anyone else."

"One of the things that's powered us through this is is knowing that we are doing it for the families. In a conflict zone – where there's no security, where anything could happen – anything we can do to provide some semblance of order and process ... that was really important to us," Bociurkiw said.

Although he's only been on the job with the OSCE for three months, Bociurkiw has been unexpectedly thrust into an international crisis that has no satisfying conclusion within sight. 

Watch the video above for more of CBC's in-depth interview with Bociurkiw from Ukraine.