RIVERTON – Laurie Holt, who worked hard to get her son Josh released from a prison in Venezuela for almost two years, died Sunday, said the Holt family in a statement.
The former Utah congresswoman Mia Love told the Associated Press on Monday that Laurie Holt, 50, did not respond to her husband, Jason, who tried to wake her up for Sunday morning in the church.
An exact cause of death and funeral plans were not immediately released. According to her Facebook page, Laurie Holt had been married to Jason Holt for more than 30 years and had four children together.
Josh Holt refused an interview Sunday night, but told KSL his mother "was our wonderful mommy bear and she will be missed." He also shared a tribute video of his mother Monday afternoon.
Love started a GoFundMe page * to cover funeral expenses.
Laurie Holt spoke for the first time about the detention of her son in July 2016. Josh Holt then spent about a week in a prison in Caracas, Venezuela. She said that her son had flown there to marry his Venezuelan fiancée, but the police arrested him after saying that they had found rifles and other military weaponry in his possession and that he was conspiring against the Venezuelan government.
Despite the efforts of Laurie Holt 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 just had to keep pushing," said Laurie Holt on June 5, 2018, at NBC's "Today" show, and reflected on her efforts. "I knew I was his voice, and I was the only one who would take him home."
Love and former senator Orrin Hatch, who had worked with Laurie Holt to get her son out of prison, expressed their condolences on Sunday evening.
In my entire Senate service there is no memory I cherish more than Laurie see her son Josh cuddle when they are finally reunited. Our hearts hurt the news about her death, 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'm just broken," Love said in a statement. "She was a nice person and always smiled." Laurie would always end our phone calls with: "Okay, love you, lady." My prayers and love are with her husband Jason, her children and grandchildren where she now Laurie goes, I will miss you. "I love you, lady."
Sunday night Hatch posted a video of the time when Josh and Laurie Holt were first reunited after being released from the Venezuelan prison.
"In my entire Senate service there is no memory I cherish more than Laurie see her son Josh cuddle when they are finally reunited," Hatch tweeted. "Our hearts hurt news about her death, 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 guarantee that the money deposited on the account will be used for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit on the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise act at your own risk.