Father of Itaewon Stampede Victim Says ‘It was like being stabbed a million times’

itaewon stampede 2022
itaewon stampede 2022
Credit: Seoul Shinmun

An American father who lost his son in a crowd surge accident in Itaewon expressed his sorrow.

Steve Blesi, who lives in suburban Atlanta, called and texted furiously after hearing about the tragedy on October 30th. He contacted friends and government authorities. He even took to Twitter, pleading with anyone with information to come forward.

Mr. Blesi and his wife received a phone call from the US Embassy in South Korea around 11:30 PM. They hoped he was in the hospital. Instead, they received a phone call confirming the worst.

“It was like it stabbed like a hundred million times simultaneously,” Mr. Blesi said to New York Times, speaking by phone on Sunday. “It was like your world just collapsing. It was numb and devastating all at the same time.”

Steve Blesi was a junior at Kennesaw State University who had only been in South Korea for two months. According to multiple reports, he had long desired to attend school in the Far East country but the coronavirus pandemic had kept him from traveling there until this fall. He had an interest in pursuing international business in East Asia after graduation.

Mr. Blesi was eventually able to piece together what had happened to his son after contacting some of his son’s friends in Seoul. He’d just finished midterm exams, and he and a group of friends were planning a fun night out on Saturday at the Halloween celebration. Steven Blesi’s friends left the gathering to escape the crowds, but he stayed.

Mr. Blesi said, “I texted him maybe a half-hour before all this happened and said, ‘I know you’re out and about. Be safe.’ I never got a reply to that.”

Officials have confirmed that Anne Gieske, a junior nursing student at the University of Kentucky, was also killed in the crowd crush. She was also studying abroad in an exchange program.

Credit: Newsis

The US State Department reports that three Americans were injured in Saturday’s deadly crowd surge in central Seoul, in addition to the two fatalities previously reported.

US President Joe Biden expressed condolences to the families of the Americans killed during a crowd surge at a packed Halloween celebration in Seoul, South Korea.

“Jill and I are devastated to learn that at least two Americans are among so many who lost their lives in Seoul. Our hearts go out to their loved ones in this time of grief, and we continue to pray for the recovery of all who were injured,” Biden tweeted on October 31st.

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