Student who returned from imprisonment in North Korea died

American student Otto Warmbier speaks as Warmbier is presented to reporters Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea announced late last month that it had arrested the 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

CINCINNATI (WDTN) – The family of the American student who was imprisoned in North Korea and returned in a coma says he has died.

The statement was released by UC Health in Cincinnati on behalf of Otto Warmbier’s parents, Fred and 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

Both Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman released statements shortly after the announcement Monday.

Senator Rob Portman said:

“Otto Warmbier was such a promising young man. He was kind, generous and accomplished. He had all the talent you could ever ask for and a bright future ahead of him. His passing today is a loss for Ohio and for all of us. Jane and I are lifting up the Warmbier family in our prayers at this difficult time, and we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this remarkable young Ohioan.”

Senator Sherrod Brown said in his statement:

“Our hearts are broken for Otto’s family and everyone who knew and loved him. Connie and I are praying for Fred and Cindy, whose grace in the face of this unthinkable grief is truly remarkable. The strength and love of their family continues to inspire us all.”

Doctors at UC Health in Cincinnati said last week that 22-year-old Otto Warmbier was in “a state of unresponsive wakefulness.”

READ MORE: Student imprisoned in North Korea in “a state of unresponsive wakefulness”

His father, Fred Warmbier, said his son was “brutalized” while in North Korea and he doesn’t believe the North Korean’s explanation about what exactly happened to his son.

“Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma – and we don’t – there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top notch medical care for so long,” he said.

Fred Warmbier said the family has many questions about what happened to his, but few answers.

“There’s no excuse for the way North Korea has treated our son and no excuse for the way they’ve treated so many others,” he said.

 

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