Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old former student at the University of Virginia, was subjected to 15 years of hard labor after attempting to steal a propaganda poster in North Korea.
After being detained for more than 17 months, Warmbier returned home to Ohio after suffering from a yearlong coma. It was reported that Warmbier contracted botulism and took a sleeping medication, but American doctors did not find evidence that supported such claims.
Daniel Kanter, head of the neurocritical care program at the University of Cincinnati Health, stated that Warmbier condition was “best described as unresponsive wakefulness”. The student was able to open and blink his eyes, but was not able to communicate. His brain had lost a large amount of tissues.
His family released a statement, “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 2:20 P.M.”
— WCPO (@WCPO) June 19, 2017
The family continued:
“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.”
“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”
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