Community reacts to the death of Otto Warmbier - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Community reacts to the death of Otto Warmbier

Otto Warmbier (Provided) Otto Warmbier (Provided)
WYOMING, OH (FOX19) -

There has been reaction from around the world after we learned about the death of Otto Warmbier.

After being detained in North Korea for 17 months, Warmbier was finally flown back home on June 13.

On Monday, his parents announced in a statement that he died at 2:20 p.m. saying, "It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family."

[Otto Warmbier dead days after release from North Korea]

It's a pain felt throughout his native home of Wyoming, Ohio.

"If you can't have your heart pour out for the Warmbier’s right now... I don't know what I would say to you. It's tragic it's absolute tragedy," said Paul Souleyrette.

His son and Warmbier grew up together and were members of the Swim Club.

"He was a fantastic young man and was going to do great things," Souleyrette said. 

When the 22-year-old returned to Cincinnati he was in a coma. The doctors called his condition "unresponsive wakefulness."

[Trump calls North Korea a 'brutal regime' following Warmbier's death]

North Korea said he had botulism, but doctors at UC Medical Center found no evidence of that.

The Warmbier family said, "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."

Emma Bernay never met Warmbier but has been praying for the family every day. As a mother, she said she is relieved the family got to hold him one last time.

"He died but he died at home and not in North Korea so if that is a small measure of comfort I hope they have that," Bernay said. 

The family said, "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."

When the Wyoming community first learned of Warmbier coming home they tied, blue and white ribbons around hundreds of trees to welcome him, not knowing his condition.  That first was a symbol of celebration, but now takes on a different meaning.

"To welcome him home has turned out more to be a symbol of mourning for the community," said Souleyrette.

In the statement the Warmbier family thanks everyone in the community and around the world for keeping them in their thoughts and prayers. They said they are at peace and at home too.

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