The niece of Rep. Brad Wenstrup was among the scores of young people killed in a crowd surge at a Halloween party in South Korea over the weekend.
“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,” Mr. Wenstrup, Ohio Republican, said in a statement.
Over 150 people perished Saturday in the deadly surge during the Halloween celebration in Seoul, including 26 foreigners, two of whom were Americans. An additional 149 people suffered injuries as of Monday, but the death toll could rise as 33 of the injured were in serious condition.
Ms. Gieske was a junior at the University of Kentucky’s nursing program and studying abroad this semester. The school Sunday released a statement that noted the Halloween celebration was attended by over 100,000 people.
“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,” Eli Capilouto, the university’s president, said in a statement.
Ms. Gieske’s parents, Dan and Madonna Gieske, requested prayers and privacy while they mourn the loss of their daughter.
“We are completely devastated and heartbroken over the loss of Anne Marie. She was a bright light loved by all,” they said in a statement. “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.”
The other American among the fatalities was 20-year-old Steven Blesi, a study-abroad student from Georgia’s Kennesaw State.
According to the Associated Press, over 80% of those killed were in their 20s or 30s and 11 were teenagers, the Interior Ministry said.
The other casualties who were foreign nationals were five from Iran, four each from China and Russia, two from Japan, and one each from Australia, Austria, France, Kazakhstan, Norway, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a one-week national mourning period to begin Sunday and ordered flags at government buildings and public offices to fly at half-staff.
• This article is based in part on wire-service reports.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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