The father of one American victim found warmth online as worry became grief

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(File photo: AFP)
For Steve Blesi, an excruciating wait turned into an unimaginable loss.

His son Steven was in the area of the crushing crowd surge in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday night. After the father, who lives in suburban Atlanta, heard the news about the tragedy, he called and texted frantically. He reached out to friends and government officials. And he went on Twitter, imploring anyone with news to come forward.اضافة اعلان

Over the next three agonizing hours, some people provided what little information they had. Others pledged prayers. All offered hope.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” one asked.

“Please, God, return this man’s son to him unharmed,” another said.

At 11:30pm, Blesi and his wife received a phone call from the US Embassy in South Korea.

“When they said, ‘Are you two sitting down?’ I knew what the answer was,” he said. His son, 20, a student at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, who was about two months into a study-abroad program, was one of the Americans among the more than 150 people who died in the Halloween celebration in the Itaewon nightlife district in Seoul.

“It was like it stabbed like a hundred million times simultaneously,” said Blesi, speaking by phone on Sunday.

Steven Blesi had been waiting for years for an opportunity to study abroad, his father said. He had a passion for international business, specifically in East Asia, but the coronavirus pandemic had kept him from traveling there until this fall.

Blesi was eventually able to piece together what happened to his son after getting in touch with some of his friends in Seoul. He had just finished taking midterm exams, and he and a group of friends were going out on Saturday for a night of fun. They eventually found themselves at the Halloween celebration. “I texted him maybe a half-hour before all this happened, and I said: ‘I know you’re out and about. Be safe,’” Blesi said. “I never got a reply to that.”

Blesi and others who knew his son agreed that his defining feature was the compassion he had for others, especially people who were struggling. He was never afraid to stand up for someone in need, Blesi said. He loved traveling and basketball, and he and his older brother were both Eagle Scouts.

“He was an adventurous spirit and a loving spirit,” Blesi said.

After he posted the confirmation of his son’s death on Twitter, the responses kept coming.

“May he rest in fun-filled, painless places,” one person said.

“Heartbroken,” said another.

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