Mourners Remember Otto Warmbier At Hometown Funeral

A USA diplomat who traveled to North Korea to secure the release of American college student Otto Warmbier (WORM'-bir) plans to attend his funeral in OH on Thursday.

The Hamilton County Coroner's Office in OH examined Warmbier's body after the 22-year-old University of Virginia student died on Monday.

Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Centre, where he was treated, declined to provide details, and his family asked the Hamilton County coroner not to perform an autopsy.

The 22-year-old was to be laid to rest at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio after he died in hospital on Tuesday.

Alex Vagonis, the college girlfriend of Otto Warmbier, has spoken out after his death, calling him her "soulmate" who helped her become a better human being. "Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Mr. Warmbier at this time of their tragic loss".

Pyongyang said Warmbier contracted botulism, a rare illness that causes paralysis, after his trial, and had been in a coma since he was given a sleeping pill. He was then rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. That comment came amid outrage in Washington over the death of Otto Warmbier days after the comatose University of Virginia student was released from imprisonment in North Korea.

The 22-year-old had booked a travel tour of North Korea in December 2015 and was about to leave the following month for Hong Kong when he was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda banner from his hotel in the capital of Pyongyang.

He was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor.

Tillerson said Trump would make a state visit to China later this year, and Mattis said both sides had agreed to expand military-to-military ties.

His death fanned a conflict between the North and the United States that was already aggravated by North Korea's defiant missile launches and two nuclear tests since early a year ago as part of its effort to build a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the US mainland.

United States doctors say he suffered a "severe neurological injury", the most likely cause of which was a cardiopulmonary arrest that had cut the blood supply to the brain. He could not speak or move voluntarily, and his doctors said he suffered extensive brain damage.

Kanter said Warmbier was breathing on his own at the time and his vital signs were normal, but he could not speak or move voluntarily. "We see no evidence of an acute or healing fracture".

"The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S.is a mystery to us as well", KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying. "Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died", his parents wrote in a statement Monday.

His family blamed the "awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans".

The Warmbiers added that they are "at peace" and "at home".

Warmbier's funeral is scheduled for Thursday at his high school alma mater in Wyoming, Ohio.

  • Leroy Wright