Otto Warmbier, US student freed by North Korea in coma, dies

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Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week, has died. He was 22. (Jon Chol Jin, File)

Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week, has died. He was 22.

The family announced Warmbier's death in a statement released by UC Health Systems, saying, "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."

The family thanked the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treating him but said, "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."

Here is the full statement from Warmbier's 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


Warmbier was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months before he was released and returned home last Tuesday.

Doctors said he returned with "severe neurological injury," but it wasn't clear what caused it.

North Korea claimed the coma was the result of botulism and a sleeping pill. Warmbier's father said he did not believe this account.

Warmbier was salutatorian of his 2013 class at the highly rated high school, and was on the soccer team among other activities.

President Donald Trump called North Korea a "brutal regime" when commenting on the death.

"Lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents," he said.

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President Donald Trump comments on the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week.



Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says the U.S. should ban tourist travel to North Korea after Warmbier's death. Currently, the State Department "strongly warns" Americans against traveling to North Korea.

"Over these past 18 months they've endured incredible pain and suffering, all because their son allegedly took a poster off a hotel wall in Pyongyang. I hope, someday soon, they can look beyond this senseless killing and find peace," Royce said in a statement. "Otto's father is right: travel propaganda lures far too many people to North Korea. This is a regime that regularly kidnaps foreign citizens and keeps 120,000 North Koreans in barbaric gulags. The United States should ban tourist travel to North Korea."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
north koreau.s. & worldstudentsOhio
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