Otto Warmbier’s death, merely a week after being released by the regime in Pyongyang has come as a huge shock to his family and friends. The 22-year old student of University of Virginia was reportedly brutalized during the 18-months he spent in North Korean prison.
The young student had gone there with a tour group. While coming back he was arrested from Pyongyang airport on charges of stealing a propaganda poster and was handed down a 15-year hard labor in North Korea. He was released merely a week ago while he was in coma.
The death of 22 year old student is being mourned by almost everyone in the country. People are heartbroken by the treatment given to the American youth. President Donald Trump while condoling the young Otto’s said that it “deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”
Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the parents of Otto Warmbier, released a statement condoling his death. The statement said, “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”, the statement went on to add.
The boy never regained his consciousness. The parents worked with government officials to secure their son’s release since he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp after being accused of ripping down a propaganda poster while on a 2016 tour.
It must be kept in mind that the young Otto was in a coma for over a year. A Washington Post report said that Warmbier was “due to arrive home in Cincinnati on Tuesday evening, having been evacuated through a U.S. military base in Sapporo, Japan” and reported that “Warmbier has been in a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last public appearance during his trial in Pyongyang in March 2016.”
The hospital release, while detailing Otto’s health condition said, he had “suffered a severe neurological condition…He suffered extensive brain damage and shows no current signs of botulism”. He has not spoken or “engaged in any purposeful movements…He shows no signs of understanding language or responding to verbal commands,” a doctor said.
Otto’s father Fred Warmbier owns a metal parts business in Cincinnati. A Forbes report says, “Warmbier owns a small business, Finishing Technology, located near Cincinnati, Ohio. The company finishes and anodizes metal parts –and is growing rapidly”. His son graduated from Wyoming High School in Ohio in 2013 as class Salutatorian