(The Hill) – The niece of Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) was among more than 150 people killed in a crowd surge in South Korea over the weekend, according to the lawmaker’s office.
“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 a statement.
The deadly crowd surge during a Halloween celebration in Seoul took the lives of at least 153 people, including 26 foreigners — two of whom were Americans. Another 133 people were injured, as of counts from Sunday evening.
Gieske was a nursing major at the University of Kentucky and had been studying in South Korea for a semester abroad.
“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,” the university’s president Eli Capilouto said in a statement.
Gieske’s parents, Dan and Madonna Gieske, asked for privacy as they grieve 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 accompanying Wenstrup’s announcement.
The other American identified among the casualties was 20-year-old Steven Blesi, a student at Georgia’s Kennesaw State studying international business who was also in the country to study aboard.
Nearly two-thirds of those killed in the crowd surge were women, and over 80 percent were young people in their 20s and 30s, according to The Associated Press.
South Korea has deployed a 475-member task force to investigate the surge, and President Yoon Seok-yeol declared a week-long national mourning period starting Sunday.