In 2017, Ryan Kelly was working his final day at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Virginia. On that day, a protest was carried out in the city over plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
During the demonstration, a man who had ties to a white supremacist movement drove his car into a group of counterprotesters. That attack led to the death of Heather Heyer. It also won Kelly the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2018 for his untitled photograph showing the moment when Heyer and around 35 others were struck.
After heading outside, Kelly began taking long-shot photographs of the march. But as soon as a car began to barrel down the road, the journalist in him kicked in and he captured the moment that led to Heyer’s death.
The picture became emblematic of the demonstrations taking place across the country and the racial tensions spreading throughout. Kelly had already accepted a new position as the social media manager for a local brewery but opted to remain in the office to help out in case the Unite The Right rally got out of hand.