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Otto Warmbier dead shortly after release from North Korea

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Otto Warmbier's family on Monday reported their son who was just returned from North Korea detention has died. He was returned from the totalitarian nation with severe brain damage. 

Warmbier, 22, a finance student at the University of Virginia, was arrested in North Korea after trying to steal a propaganda poster.  

The family went 15 months without hearing a word from their son or any updates on his condition from the North Koreans or Swedish officials that do diplomatic work in the DPRK on the behalf of the United States.

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Otto Warmbier 

Statement from the 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.

Right now there are no answers on what happened to Warmbier during his detention in North Korea. 

Just last week, they learned he was in a coma for most of the time. He was returned to Cincinnati Wednesday and is in stable condition. 

The student's release came amid escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has ramped up its ballistic missile tests in its pursuit of a nuclear weapon it threatens to use in combat. 

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