2016 FILE PHOTO-- American student Otto Frederick Warmbier, center, arrives at a court for his trial in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, on March 16, 2015. (Xinhua/Lu Rui via Getty Images)
Chris Stewart, WHIO.com
Otto Warmbier, 22, of Wyoming, Ohio, has died from injuries sustained during detainment in North Korea.
University of Cincinnati Medical Center released a statement on behalf of Fred and Cindy Warmbier, Monday afternoon.
“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.
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.”
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.”
They said they were choosing to focus on the time they were given with their “warm, engaging, brilliant” son instead of focusing on what they had lost.
Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, convicted of subversion after he tearfully confessed he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.
The University of Virginia student was held for more than 17 months and medically evacuated from North Korea last week. Doctors said he returned with severe brain damage, but it wasn’t clear what caused it.
Parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier told The Associated Press in a statement the day of his release that they wanted “the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime ” and expressed relief he had been returned to “finally be with people who love him.”
He was taken by Medivac to Cincinnati, where he grew up in suburban Wyoming. He was salutatorian of his 2013 class at the highly rated high school, and was on the soccer team among other activities.