Otto Warmbier's funeral: Final farewell for United States student detained by North Korea

Pauline Gross
June 22, 2017

The death of Cincinnati native Otto Warmbier a week after leaving a North Korean prison has sent a shockwave of grief and anger through the Tri-State and the nation.

Investigators were still reviewing radiological images and awaiting additional medical records requested by the coroner, Zornes told Reuters.

Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People's Daily, said Chinese officials must be wary that Warmbier's death might push Washington to put greater pressure on Beijing. After Trump took office, Warmbier said, he and his wife "decided the time for "strategic patience" was over" - using a term that had been used to describe the USA policy toward the rogue, nuclear-armed government in Pyongyang. "If you have something that could be anything other than a natural death, you're obligated to do an autopsy".

The possibilities could have been any number of things, Wecht said, including strangulation, suffocation, medication or a botched suicide attempt.

Warmbier returned to Cincinnati in a coma, or a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", on June 13; he died Monday. Three Americans remain detained in North Korea. Warmbier stood accused of a "hostile act": taking down a political poster in a hotel in Pyongyang. Politicians renewed calls for the regime to release three U.S. citizens being held in the country.

Doctors said he suffered extensive loss of brain tissue and "profound weakness and contraction" of his muscles, arms and legs.

Several neurologists agreed there is no way to know for certain what caused the coma - it could have been anything from an allergic reaction to a drug overdose to strangulation or some other kind of torture.

Based on what the doctors in Cincinnati have said publicly, Andrew Josephson, director of inpatient neurology at the University of California at San Francisco, said it seemed pretty clear that "either the brain for a period of time was not getting enough blood flow, or enough oxygen, or both".

"He has spontaneous eye-opening and blinking", Kanter continued. "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". Other times, you can not bend.

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"It's nearly a moot point", Laskowitz said.

The two of them were close; Warmbier loved that every time she surfaced through the water, she had a big, spontaneous smile on her face, Siler said, and used to tease her, warmly, about that. While China has expressed frustration with North Korea's nuclear project, it also deeply opposes US military presence in the region. "Even healthy people can develop deep-vein thrombosis, or DVT".

There could be several possible causes in such cases; sometimes an infection such as sepsis will develop which becomes fatal; sometimes a family will make a hard choice not to continue aggressive treatment; sometimes blood clots develop in people who are immobile, which can be deadly if the clots move to the lungs.

For example, "he could have been treated for a body-wide infection such as sepsis, which is not uncommon in someone who is bedridden", Gupta said. "I never had so many apparent friends in my life as in Moscow".

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in remarks to reporters before the funeral, said he and his wife had spent Warmbier's 22nd birthday in December with the detained young man's parents.

US President Trump said earlier this year that he would be open to talking with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un one-on-one under the right circumstances, but White House spokesman Sean Spicer poured cold water on that prospect on Tuesday in light of Mr Warmbier's death.

Wecht said he was surprised the family didn't want to make one last attempt at determining what happened to their son while he was a prisoner of what President Donald Trump has called a "brutal regime".

Haley Berry is a UVA student and she did not know Warmbier but said she felt she need to come to support the community.

Other reports by GizPress

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