Two American college students, both 20, were identified Sunday as being among the 153 people killed in a stampede during Halloween festivities in Seoul, South Korea.
Georgia native Steven Blesi, who was spending the semester studying abroad in the South Korean capital, and Anne Gieske, a nursing student in her third year at the University of Kentucky, died in the crowd surge Saturday night.
“I texted him maybe a half-hour before all this happened, and I said, ‘I know you’re out and about. Be safe,’” Blesi’s dad Steve Blesi told The New York Times. “I never got a reply to that.”
The distraught dad, who spent Saturday night frantically trying to get in contact with Steven, received a call from the US Embassy in South Korea confirming his son had died during the Halloween celebration in the Itaewon district.
“It was like it stabbed like a hundred million times simultaneously,” Blesi, 62, told the Times.
“It was like your world just collapsing. It was numb and devastating all at the same time.”
His son was about two months into a semester studying abroad at Hanyang University in Seoul. He had an interest in pursing international business in East Asia after graduation.
Steven had recently wrapped up midterms and was out celebrating with friends Saturday when they came across the massive Halloween celebration, the first in two years post-COVID restrictions. He and his friends were among the 100,000 revelers out partying in the popular nightlife district.
Gieske, a junior studying in South Korea with an education abroad program for the semester, also attended the party, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said in a statement Sunday. Two other students and a faculty member 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.
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