The niece of an Ohio Republican congressman was among the people killed in South Korea during a deadly Halloween stampede, one of two American students who died in the incident.
On Monday, Rep. Brad Wenstrup announced that his niece was one of the individuals killed in the crowded streets of Seoul, South Korea, over the weekend when the crowd surged, killing over 150 people, and injuring more.
“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,” the congressman said in a statement. “We loved her so much.”
Gieske, a nursing student at the University of Kentucky, was studying abroad in South Korea as was the other student, Georgia native and Kennesaw State University student Steven Blesi.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto first confirmed Gieske’s passing in a statement Sunday. Two other students and a faculty member from the college who were also in South Korea for the semester were reported safe.
“We have been in contact with Anne’s family and will provide whatever support we can — now and in the days ahead — as they cope with this indescribable loss,” Capilouto said.
Gieske had celebrated her 20th birthday in Seoul the day prior, according to Fox 19.
The New York Times reported that approximately 100,000 people showed up to the event, and narrow streets were crammed full of people who were unable to move. So many people were present that emergency workers struggled to make it to the victims and struggled further to transport them out of the area to hospitals.
Of the reported deaths, 80% were in their 20s and 30s and at least four were teenagers. More than two dozen were foreign citizens, including Gieske and Blesi.
South Korean officials say that 97 women and 56 men were confirmed dead in total, while 133 additional people were injured.
“We grieve with the people of the Republic of Korea and send our best wishes for a quick recovery to all those who were injured,” said President Joe Biden in a statement Saturday.
“The Alliance between our two countries has never been more vibrant or more vital – and the ties between our people are stronger than ever. The United States stands with the Republic of Korea during this tragic time,” the president continued.
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