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Anne Geiske, Beechwood graduate and UK student studying aboard, killed in crowd surge in Seoul

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

Anne Geiske, who celebrated her 20th birthday Friday while studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea, was killed during a horrific crowd surge at a Halloween party in the Itaewon area there Saturday night. The tragedy left 153 dead, most of them young people.

Anne Geiske (Intagram photos)

Geiske, daughter of Dan and Madonna Geiske of Fort Mitchell, was a Beechwood High School graduate and a superstar in the Beechwood Band. She is the granddaughter of the late Paul and Madonna Klein of Fort Mitchell.

Geiske was a junior nursing student at the University of Kentucky and was studying in South Korea as part of an education abroad program. Two other UK students and faculty members are in South Korea and have been accounted safe. A second U.S. student, Steven Blesi of Marietta, Georgia, and a student at Kennesaw State University, was also among those killed.

The crowd of 100,000 people at a popular, traditional Halloween gathering somehow surged into a crush of people. Details of the horror are still forthcoming.

Geiske’s father, Dan, released this statement: “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.”

The crowd at the Halloween celebration (via CNN)

The loss to the Beechwood and UK community is indescribable.

“There aren’t adequate or appropriate words to describe the pain of a beautiful life cut short,” said UK President Eli Capiluto in a statement. “It isn’t fair, nor is it comprehensible. It is loss and it hurts in ways that are impossible to articulate.

“As a community, it is a sacred responsibility to be there for each other in moments of sheer joy and in those of deepest sadness.”

He announced that grief counseling would be available to students who need it, and said that the “nearly 80 students from South Korea at UK will need our support.” Capilouto has been in touch with the Geiske family.

Beechwood High School principal Justin Kaiser sent a message to the Beechwood community echoing Capilouto’s shock and sadness:

Anne (Instagram photo)

“Anne graduated from Beechwood High School in 2021 and died tragically in an accident while studying abroad overseas as a student at the University of Kentucky. Anne was our student, friend, mentor, drum major in the band, and a beloved member of our Fort Mitchell community. Our District will have counseling available for any students and staff in need of emotional support and we will provide further details about our plans to honor Anne’s memory in the next 24-48 hours. Our District extends our most sincere condolences to Anne’s family, friends, and the vast network of people who love her.”

Anne was a brilliant clarinetist in the Beechwood music program and a leader in the band, serving as a mentor to other band members, as well as drum major.

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the Gieske and Klein families who both have very deep roots in our Fort Mitchell community,” said Fort Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman and the City Council.

“The Geiskes said Anne had an incredibly deep faith and love of her Catholic Faith, and have asked for your prayers and privacy at this time.”

News reports and those at the scene described the scene in Seoul’s Itaewon district as chaotic and deadly. The crowd surged into a downhill, narrow alley and people fell on each other “like dominoes.” As of Sunday night, officials said that 153 were killed and 133 were injured. Most of the dead were in their 20s and 30s, and at least four were teenagers. The death count is expected to rise, as many of the injured were in serious condition.

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