Otto Warmbier, student released from North Korea, has died, according to his family
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Otto Warmbier, the local high school graduate who was arrested and detained in North Korea, has died according to a release from his family.
Warmbier was studying abroad in China when he joined a tour group in North Korea. He was detained at the airport and sentenced to 15 years hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.
A team of doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical Center discussed his condition on June 15th, two days after Warmbier was flown in to Lunken Airport in a coma.
Dr. Daniel Kanter, University of Cincinnati Health, described Warmbier as being in a state of unresponsive wakefulness. "He has not spoken, he has not engaged in any purposeful movements or behaviors," said Kanter.
North Korean officials said that Warmbier fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016. UC Health doctors said that they see no evidence of botulism. They said that he suffered extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain as a result of cardiopulmonary arrest. Doctors say that usually happens after intoxication or trauma. They also said that, aside from some MRI images and lab results from North Korean medical personnel that accompanied Warmbier, they're not exactly sure what happened to him.
Warmbier's family didn't learn about those conditions until recently. They did not believe the explanation from North Korea about what happened to Otto.
"I'm so proud of Otto, my son, who has been in a pariah regime for the last 18 months, brutalized and terrorized and he's now home with his family," says Fred Warmbier.
President Trump called the family concerning Otto. Fred Warmbier says he was gracious and was concerned about Otto's condition. Warmbier credits the Trump administration for bringing Otto home.
The following statement is issued at the request of Fred & Cindy Warmbier and family:
It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm.
It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost – future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched – Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two – that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.
We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto. Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.
When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.
We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We are at peace and at home too.
- Fred & Cindy Warmbier and Family
Wyoming City Schools released a statement regarding Otto's death:
Wyoming City Schools is deeply saddened by the loss of Otto Warmbier. The countless contributions he made to his school and community through his leadership, actions, and limitless enthusiasm will be felt far into the future.