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RIVERTON — Laurie Holt, who worked vigorously to have her son Josh released from a Venezuela prison for nearly two years, died Sunday, the Holt family said in a statement.
Former Utah congresswoman Mia Love told the Associated Press Monday that Laurie Holt, 50, was found unresponsive by her husband, Jason, who tried to wake her up for church Sunday morning.
An exact cause of death and funeral plans weren’t immediately released. According to her Facebook page, Laurie Holt was married to Jason Holt for more than 30 years and they had four children together.
Josh Holt declined an interview Sunday night, but told KSL his mother “was our amazing mama bear and she'll be missed.” He also shared a tribute video of his mother Monday afternoon.
Love started a GoFundMe page* to help cover funeral expenses.
Laurie Holt first spoke about her son's imprisonment in July 2016. By then, Josh Holt had been in a jail in Caracas, Venezuela, for about a week. She said her son had flown there to marry his Venezuelan fiancee, but police arrested him after they said they found assault rifles and other military weaponry in his possession, and that he was conspiring against the Venezuelan government.
Despite Laurie Holt’s efforts for months, Josh Holt remained in prison until he was finally released in May 2018.
“I got angry. There was a lot of anger, but I had to just keep pushing,” Laurie Holt said on June 5, 2018, on NBC’s “Today” show, reflecting on her efforts. “I knew I was his voice, and I was the only thing that was going to get him home.”
In my entire Senate service there’s no memory I cherish more than seeing Laurie hug her son Josh when they were finally reunited. Our hearts ache at news of her passing but Elaine and I send our prayers and our love to Jason and the Holt family tonight.https://t.co/T8nq18zob6pic.twitter.com/tk4ALMNRQo— Orrin Hatch (@OrrinHatch) February 11, 2019
"I am just devastated,” Love said in a statement. “She was a beautiful person and always had a smile. Laurie would always end our phone calls with, ‘OK, love you, lady.’ My prayers and love are with her husband Jason, her children and grandchildren that she has left for now. Laurie, I will miss you. Love you, lady."
Sunday night, Hatch posted a video of the moment Josh and Laurie Holt reunited for the first time after he was released from the Venezuelan prison.
"In my entire Senate service, there’s no memory I cherish more than seeing Laurie hug her son Josh when they were finally reunited,” Hatch tweeted. “Our hearts ache at news of her passing but (my wife) Elaine and I send our prayers and our love to Jason and the Holt family tonight.”
Contributing: Ladd Egan, KSL TV and Art Raymond, Deseret News
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.