Friends and family speak after freelance journalist from Utah released from captivity in Yemen

Posted at 8:40 PM, Jun 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-04 23:47:28-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- He was raised in the Salt Lake Valley, graduated from Highland High School, and went to the University of Utah.  All of this before May 17, 2015: the day he was captured by a Shiite rebel group in Yemen while working as a freelance journalist.

"When I found out, I was like, 'Whoa, hold on, rewind.'  So I started reading.  I read almost every story out there," said Anthony Lujan, a friend since first grade.

"And I just assumed he was dead, we would never talk to him again," said Sarah Garvis, Casey’s sister.

Friends and family will see Casey Coombs again.  According to the State Department, Omani authorities negotiated his release on Monday.

"He's super caring, he'll listen to you, he's really in-depth.  Happy and adventurous, definitely his lifestyle," Lujan said.

Coombs suffered a back injury.  He’s in a hospital in Oman and will travel to Seattle when his health improves.

“His sister said you shouldn’t see him right away because him and I just have this jokey thing; She’s like, 'You’ll make him laugh too hard, he’ll re-hurt his back,'” Lujan said.

He plans to invite Casey on a trip to recreate a summer birthday tradition, rafting in Moab’s Cataract Canyon.

Coombs’ sister has her own tough love planned for his return.

"I just can't wait to see him, to hug him and probably punch him just to tell him what he put us through," she said.

When Casey returns, the family says he will need major back surgery and will have to re-start his life.  If you would like to help, you can visit the family’s GoFundMe page, here.