Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was medically evacuated from North Korea last week after nearly eighteen months in prison, was pronounced dead on Monday afternoon.
The twenty-two year old student from the University of Virginia was detained from North Korea and returned to his home in Cincinnati, Ohio, after being held in prison for nearly eighteen months for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel in North Korea.
After he was medically evacuated his parents, Cindy and Frank Warmbier, said they watched their son’s face change from anguished to peaceful in the days that followed. “He was home and we believe he could sense that,” they said.
His parents announced earlier today that their twenty-two year old son, Otto, was dead. They released a full statement that read, “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”
Otto’s death was mourned immediately, not only by close friends and family, but by an uproar of supporters on social media and in the White House, infuriated by the fact that his life was cut due to the brutal repercussions for such a juvenile crime.
President Trump issued a statement shortly after:
“Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. 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.
Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
According to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the case of Otto Warmbier could even push the Trump administration to place a travel ban on Americans visiting North Korea.
“We have been evaluating whether we should put some type of travel visa restriction to North Korea,” Tillerson told a House committee last week. “We haven’t come to a final conclusion, but we are considering it.”
We fully support placing a travel ban on North Korea. Do you?
Politicians continued to respond on Tuesday following Otto’s tragic death. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) fired a shot directly toward the North Korean regime, stating, “The North Korean regime is mistaken if it believes that its barbaric mistreatment of an American citizen held in depraved captivity for over a year will pass quietly.”
President Trump also commented further on the death of Otto Warmbier, suggesting that the United States of America might, in fact, be forced to act alone against the brutal North Korean regime if other allies do not agree that the brutal treatment of American student, Otto Warmbier, is enough of a catalyst to stand up to Kim Jung Un and his regium. “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out,” Trump stated on Tuesday.
“It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto. I spoke with his family earlier and his family is wonderful. But what happened to Otto is a disgrace and should never have happened. He should have been brought home that same day the event happened and (if he had) the outcome would have been much different.”
Below is a salutatorian speech from Otto Warmbier. This is how this young man should be remembered.