National News

NC State grad among journalists killed in Libya

Posted April 20, 2011 2:11 p.m. EDT
Updated April 21, 2011 6:30 a.m. EDT

— Tim Hetherington, the daring war photographer and Oscar-nominated co-director of the documentary "Restrepo" about a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, died Wednesday while covering battles between rebels and Libyan government forces. He was 40.

With him was photographer Chris Hondros, a North Carolina State University graduate who now is based in New York for the Getty agency. Hondros also died and two other photographers were seriously injured, said a doctor in Misrata who spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of government reprisals.

Hetherington was killed in Misrata, the only rebel-held city in western Libya, said his U.S.-based publicist, Johanna Ramos Boyer. The city has come under weeks of relentless shelling by government troops. Hetherington tweeted Tuesday: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."

Since his 1993 graduation, Hondros has covered conflicts in Irag, Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to a report on the N.C. State website. During his time at the university, Hondros was honored as student photographer of the year in North Carolina. His photos have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek and The Economist.

NCSU report on Hondros' life and work

Hetherington was nominated with Sebastian Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm," for an Academy Award for their 2010 documentary film "Restrepo," which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

"He was an amazing talent and special human being," said Sundance Institute spokeswoman Brooks Addicott.

"Restrepo" tells the story of the 2nd Platoon of Battle Company in the 173rd Airborne Combat Team on its deployment in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. The title refers to the platoon outpost, named after a popular soldier, Juan Restrepo, who was killed early in the fighting.

"We're at war," Hetherington said in an interview with The Associated Press before the Oscars. "We wanted to bring the war into people's living room and put it into the movie theaters, and get people to connect with it. It's not necessarily about moral outrage. It's about trying to understand that we're at war and try to understand the emotional terrain of what being at war means."

Hetherington was born in Liverpool, England, and studied literature and photojournalism at Oxford University. Known for his gutsy ability to capture conflict zones on film, his other credits included working as a cameraman on the documentaries "Liberia: An Uncivil War" and "The Devil Came on Horseback." He also produced pieces for ABC News' "Nightline."

"Tim bore powerful witness to unimaginable battles and made them real through the lens of his camera," said ABC News president Ben Sherwood. "He leaves a legacy of unforgettable stories told through moving and still pictures."

Hetherington's photos appeared in Vanity Fair magazine, where he worked as a contributing photographer. He won the World Press Photo of the Year award for an image of an exhausted U.S. soldier resting after a fire-fight in Afghanistan and released "Infidel," a book of photos capturing the lives of the 173rd Airborne Combat Team, in 2010.

Hetherington is survived by his mother, father, sister, brother and three nieces and nephews.

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Associated Press Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.