WASHINGTON D.C. – One day after Josh Holt was released from a Venezuelan prison, his mother spoke to Fox 13 News about their reunion and what it took to bring him home.
It’s been nearly two years since Josh Holt was arrested in Venezuela, but one unexpected call from the White House on Saturday and Josh was suddenly coming home.
Since receiving that call Saturday, the Holt family was flown to Washington D.C. and escorted to the White House, where they met President Donald Trump.
But they say what they look forward to the most is getting to have a real conversation with Josh. It’s a moment the family wasn’t sure they would ever see.
“We were called at about 4:30 in the morning and woke up and told us that, get to D.C. as soon as possible and that he was coming,” Laurie Holt, Josh's mother, said.
Speaking at hotel near D.C. Sunday, Laurie said it’s been a whirlwind weekend.
“You know, going to the White House, riding in a motorcade from the airport to the White House was unreal, you know, things that we'd never experienced,” she said.
It’s been a lot of attention and a lot of running around, and Laurie said she just wants to spend some time with her son.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet because they whisk him away so fast,” Jason Holt, Josh's father, said.
Josh, Thamy and Marian are getting checked out in a hospital after Josh and Thamy spent nearly two years in a Venezuelan prison.
“He’s very pale,” Laurie Holt said. “Very, very pale and he has dark circles under his eyes. He had lost a lot of weight, but he has gained some back.”
She said while they look forward to spending time with Josh, the delays are necessary.
“It’s just part of getting him the help that he needs, and that’s OK, because that’s the most important thing is him, right now" Laurie Holt said.
The fight to free Josh and his wife has been a long struggle. The US and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro haven’t seen eye-to-eye in years, which begs the question: Why now?
“He didn’t ask for anything and we didn’t offer anything," Senator Orrin Hatch said of the negotiation with President Maduro. "We just pled with them that we would like Josh to be with his parents, that he’s a fine young man. He's a missionary, and they kind of recognized the Mormon missionary part."
President Trump says part of the credit for Josh’s release goes to the constant efforts of local politicians like Senator Hatch and Rep. Mia Love.
“Every time I'd see Mia I said, 'Look, don’t mention the name Joshua Holt. We’re working, we're doing it!'" President Trump joked Saturday.
That work is greatly appreciated by the Holts.
“It took a long time, but the government cares for its people and they worked to get him out,” Jason Holt said.
Once the release was arranged, Josh, Thamy and Marian still needed to fly back to the United States. That’s when the group hit a slight snag.
“Once the plane was taking off on the runway, the engines cut and then they had to turn around and go back,” said Jason Holt, Josh’s father.
Jason said he feared Maduro had changed his mind, but in the meeting with President Trump on Saturday Sen. Bob Corker explained it was just a mechanical issue.
But once that final issue was resolved, the family was on their way back to the US for a tearful reunion.
Laurie Holt said she is grateful for the hard work that brought Josh back to her.
“People think they can travel to other places and that just because you are American, you can get out if you get captured for no reason,” she said. “Don’t think that it’s going to be an easy ride, because it took a lot for our government to get him out.”