Otto Warmbier Dies Soon After Returning Home
Otto Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student, son of Fred and Cindy Warmbier, friend to all, was released from captivity in North Korea last week. He was being held for 15 years of hard labor after the government accused him of attempting to steal a sign in his hotel room. After being jailed he soon fell into a coma where he remained for more than a year. When he returned to the US last Tuesday he was diagnosed with extensive loss of brain tissue. He was in a state of unresponsive wakefulness. He was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands.
Otto Warmbier Was Going to Study-Abroad
The picture above is of Otto Wambier with Todd Siler, a teacher at Wyoming High School in Ohio, at Otto’s 2013 graduation.
Warmbier had gone to North Korea, as a tourist, with a group of students. The group went with Young Pioneer Tours. Following his death the tour company said they would no longer take American citizens to North Korea. The group was on their way to Hong Kong for a study-abroad program. The young man was an outstanding student. He was selected to be the salutatorian for his high school graduating class. He was homecoming king and captain of his high school soccer team. He was considered an expert in underground rap music as well as economics. He was a top student at U-Va., with a scholarship designed for the most “intellectually curious” students. Last month, his classmates graduated from U-Va. without him.
Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy, issued a statement shortly after his death, “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 times 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 – that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family…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 family is being showered with love and support from people around the world. President Donald Trump said, in a statement, “There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.”
Teacher Siler said, “Otto just brought out the best in people. He’s home. So it’s okay to let go.”