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Otto Warmbier, imprisoned in North Korea, dies in U.S.

Otto Warmbier, imprisoned in North Korea, dies in U.S.

CINCINNATI —  Otto Warmbier, the Ohio student who was returned from North Korea last week in a coma, has died, his family announced Monday.

Warmbier, who grew up in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming, Ohio, was a 21-year-old University of Virginia student when he visited North Korea with a tour group in late 2015. He was detained as the group was preparing to leave the country in early 2016 and charged with engaging in anti-state activity.  

Otto Warmbier during a press conference on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Much remains unknown about what happened to Warmbier in North Korea, but he reportedly had been in a coma for more than a year. Brain scans showed severe damage.


On Thursday, Cincinnati doctors described his condition as "unresponsive wakefulness." 

The Warmbier family released a statement saying despite their grief they "choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person." 

The family also thanked those at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who treated their son upon his return to Ohio, but said the "monstrous treatment" by the North Koreans "ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today."

The family went on to write, "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."