Rep. Brad Wenstrup’s niece, Anne Marie Gieske, died in the Halloween crowd surge in Seoul over the weekend, the Ohio Republican said in a statement Monday.
“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.
Wenstrup also released a statement on behalf of her parents, Dan and Madonna Gieske:
“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,” they said in the statement provided by Wenstrup’s office.
Gieske, a nursing student at the University of Kentucky, had been studying abroad in Seoul this semester, according to a statement from the university president, Eli Capilouto.
“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,” the statement said. “We will be there for those in our community who knew and loved Anne. We also have nearly 80 students from South Korea at UK — members of our community — who will need our support.”
South Korean authorities are investigating the crowd surge that killed at least 155 partygoers in Seoul, as the rattled nation attempts to come to terms with one of its worst-ever disasters.
At least 26 foreign nationals, including two US citizens, are among the dead. More than a dozen embassies around the globe have confirmed victims from their countries.
South Korea has begun a week-long period of mourning while officials attempt to understand how the devastating crush took place.