Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was detained North Korea for nearly 15 months, has passed away, according to his family. Warmbier was in a coma when he was released from North Korea last week, and his father condemned the brutal regime of Kim Jong Un, calling it a “pariah.” His parents released the following statement, announcing their son’s tragic passing.
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.
It’s now believed that Warmbier has been a coma for a nearly a year of his past detainment. North Korea has issued a statement blaming botulism and a sleeping pill for the coma, but U.S. doctors dispute the story.