US congressman’s niece among dead in Seoul Halloween surge

International Headlines

(NewsNation) — The niece of a U.S. congressman is among the two Americans and 150-plus individuals who died in a crown surge during Halloween festivities in Seoul on Sunday.

Confirming the death in an online statement Monday, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), provided sentiments from the girl’s parents along with his own.

“Monica and I, and our entire family, are grieving the loss of our niece Anne Marie Gieske. She was a gift from God to our family. We loved her so much,” Wenstrup said in the statement.  

“We are completely devastated and heartbroken over the loss of Anne Marie. She was a bright light loved by all. We ask for your prayers but also the respect of our privacy. Anne’s final gift to us was dying in the state of sanctifying grace. We know we will one day be reunited with her in God’s kingdom,” her parents wrote in a joint statement.

Gieske was a nursing junior at the University of Kentucky studying abroad in South Korea when she died, prompting University President Eli Capilouto to release a statement on the school’s behalf:

“There aren’t adequate or appropriate words to describe the pain of a beautiful life cut short. It isn’t fair, nor is it comprehensible. It is loss and it hurts in ways that are impossible to articulate,” he said in a statement.

The other American who died was 20-year-old Kennesaw State University student Steven Blesi. He was also studying abroad.

On Twitter, Georgia native Steve Blesi announced the death of his son Steven, who was spending the semester in the South Korean capital.

“We just got confirmation our son died,” he wrote. “Thank you for the outpouring of love. We need time to grieve.”

Kennesaw State University issued a statement: “Blesi, an international business major, was one of 11 students from KSU in South Korea as part of a study abroad program. All other KSU students are reported safe.”

Kennesaw State University President Kathy Schwaig said, “On behalf of the entire Kennesaw State community, our thoughts and prayers go out to Steven’s family and friends as they mourn this incomprehensible loss.”

At least 26 of the dead are foreigners from China, Russia, Iran and elsewhere.

Because Halloween festivities in Itaewon have no official organizers, police said there is not a specific protocol or set procedures for how to handle such events.

South Korea Prime Minister Han Duck-soo has promised to thoroughly investigate so that nothing like this ever happens again.

© 1998 - 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation

Elections 2022

More Elections 2022