'Be safe, I love you': Last heartbreaking text Steven Blesi's dad sent before he died in Seoul stampede
MARIETTA, GEORGIA: A Halloween celebration in Seoul turned deadly, claiming the life of Steven Blesi, an American student, who was among the 153 people reportedly killed in a stampede on Saturday, October 29. His heartbroken father said that this was his son's "first big adventure."
The 20-year-old's father, 62-year-old Steve, tried calling and texting his son after hearing the news of the stampede, only for a police officer to eventually answer the phone. According to The Sun, the popular party district of Itaewon had turned into the site of a horrific tragedy.
Our son was in the area of stampede in Seoul, we still have not heard from him. Authorities are trying to help. If anyone has any news please share. pic.twitter.com/E5qKkzUBfU— Steve Blesi (@steve_blesi) October 30, 2022
Steve said his son, a Kennesaw State University student studying abroad, told him his exams were over and he was going out to celebrate with friends. While speaking to the Washington Post, the devastated father said, "I just said, ‘Listen, be safe. I love you.' And that was the last text between us."
As the news reached the family, Steve said they were "constantly calling and calling and calling and calling with no answer. [That] scared the hell out of us." he said. A police officer answered Blesi's phone and told them that it had been found in the area where the incident occured.
The father called the US Embassy, finding contacts in the study abroad program, and even posted a picture of his son on Twitter. They hoped Blesi might be alive, admitted in a hospital but their worst nightmare came true and confirmed their fears.
Thank you for the outpouring of love. We need time to grieve.— Steve Blesi (@steve_blesi) October 30, 2022
Steve said, "I just never thought something like this would happen. I can’t understand how they didn’t have crowd control. I don’t even know how the hell it happened."
Speaking about Blesi, Steve said he always wanted to pursue a semester abroad and subsequently left in August. He said, "He was an extrovert, he was full of adventure. And this was his first big adventure." The father said his family has been left "shattered." He said, "Living with this the rest of our lives is going to be very difficult." He told the New York Times, "I texted him maybe a half-hour before all this happened, and I said, 'I know you're out and about. Be safe'. I never got a reply to that."
Meanwhile, another American student, Anne Gieske, also died in the incident. She attended the University of Kentucky University. University President Eli Capilouto said, "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." Just moments before the fatal accident, Gieske, a nursing student, had shared a post celebrating her 20th birthday by the Han River.
The South Korea’s Interior and Safety Ministry reported that of those killed, 97 were women and 57 were men. Four victims were just teenagers, while 96 were in their 20s.