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Ukrainian refugee separated from family is reunited with loved ones

Ganna Harrison, a refugee of the Ukraine conflict; her husband and daughter are both U.S. citizens and were allowed in, however she was not.

SAN DIEGO — Torn apart by the war in Ukraine, a family is finally reunited in the U.S. On Tuesday, CBS 8 caught up with the Harrisons of Spanish Fork, Utah. They were enjoying the sunshine, the surf at Ocean Beach, and each other. 

It was Monday night that Ganna Harrison was finally able to call them.

"I heard the voice and said, ‘That's my mother!’,” said 10-year-old Sofiya. “And we got our bags and went out to the car and ran!" 

After five days in limbo, Ganna was freed from Customs and Border Protection detention. 

RELATED: U.S. citizens struggle to bring Ukrainian family members across border

She had been held incommunicado since arriving at the San Ysidro border crossing last week. A refugee of the Ukraine conflict; her husband and daughter are both U.S. citizens and were allowed in, however she was not.

“Kind of like a prison,” said Ganna. “I was supposed to sleep on the floor and use my shoes instead of pillows and walk to lunch and breakfast with my hands at my back." 

She described a scene with about two dozen in the space she was in: frightened and emotional. 

"We would try to be strong for each other, like one time for two hours, somebody would cry,” said Ganna. “We didn’t know how long we’d have to stay there. They wouldn’t tell us anything. Zero information.”

Brad Harrison shared about his anxiety. 

"We were really thinking that she was lost in their system,” said Brad. “We didn't know if she'd been sent to another state…maybe deported,"

Then, the phone call Monday night came. 

“But to hear her voice was just a shock to both of us,” said Brad. “I hurried and put her on speaker and Sofiya was amazed, and we just couldn't believe it.” 

They were just a few minutes from the McDonald's restaurant, where she was waiting.

"We opened the door, and it was a bee-line to Mom!" said Brad.

Ganna was smiling as she recalled, “Sofiya running…onto my back and she recognized me and we hugged each other...Of course, we started to cry, all of us. Finally, we're together and safe." 

Sofiya was thrilled. 

"When I saw her, I started crying!” said Sofiya. “I missed you so much and I love you!"  

Still, for Ganna and Sofiya, there are vivid memories of the bombings and desperate exodus from Ukraine.

Brad thinks about the uncertainty of the past month and week. But it's ended well.

"Just wanted to say thanks to everybody,” said Brad. “I can't really express how much it means to me that everyone was there to support us." 

WATCH RELATED: U.S. citizens struggle to bring Ukrainian family members across border (April 2022)

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