American fighting with Ukrainian forces killed in Ukraine, family says

American fighting with Ukrainian forces killed in Ukraine, family says

An American fighting with Ukrainian forces has been killed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to his family.

Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, died Monday in Ukraine, his family confirmed to CNN.

His mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told the news agency that Cancel, a former U.S. Marine, agreed to go to Ukraine as part of his work with a private military contracting company.

NBC News reached out to Cancel's family and the State Department for confirmation overnight, but did not hear back.

Cancel left Ukraine in mid-March and leaves behind his wife and their 7 month-old, his mother said.

He wanted to go over because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it so that it didn't come here, and that maybe our American soldiers wouldn't have to be involved in it, Cabrera told CNN.

She said that his body had not been found.

They haven't found his body, Cabrera said. They are trying, the men that were with him, but it was either grab his body or get killed, but we would love for him to come back to us. Cancel was originally from Orange County, New York, and was Cancel's brother-in- law, Devin Tietze Jr.Tietze Jr. told He was living in Tennessee before he left for Ukraine.

He believed wholeheartedly that shouldn't have happened and he wanted to help the people in Ukraine, Tietze said.

A State Department official told CNN they are aware of these reports and are closely monitoring the situation. We have no further comment due to privacy considerations, according to the official's statement. We reiterate that U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of U.S. citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials, and that U.S. citizens in Ukraine should leave immediately if it is safe to do so, using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.