Otto Warmbier, the young Ohioan who died at age 22 after being sentenced to hard labor in a North Korean prison, was remembered by more than 2,500 mourners at a moving funeral.
Warmbier’s funeral was held on June 22 at Wyoming High School in Ohio, where he was class Salutatorian not that long ago.
Otto’s sister and brother were among those who spoke at the funeral. His father, Fred Warmbier, wore an American flag tie to the service. “It doesn’t matter where he was or what he was doing, he was always there for you whenever you needed him,” Otto’s brother, Austin, said. “It is hard following in Otto’s footsteps. He had a perfect GPA, and was the captain of the soccer team.”
Mourners filed past an array of belongings that Warmbier had taken with him to North Korea, CNN reported: “They included his wallet, running and boat shoes, a University of Virginia notebook, a scientific calculator, a reusable grocery bag and the crumpled linen blazer he wore while there.”
Warmbier wore that blazer during a much-publicized propaganda show trial the North Koreans made him endure, and his father later donned it for an emotional and angry press conference after the North Koreans released Otto in mid June in a vegetative state.
In a coma for more than a year, Otto never regained consciousness, and he died just a few days after returning to American soil. The University of Virginia student, who was from the Cincinnati area, was sentenced in 2016 to 15 years of hard labor by North Korea after being accused of taking a propaganda poster as a souvenir.
The funeral itself was closed to the media, but lines of people were seen outside the school.
It’s not clear what caused Warmbier’s injuries, but doctors in America said he had suffered severe neurological injury normally witnessed when oxygen is deprived to the brain and was completely unresponsive.
According to ABC News, “Joseph Yun, the U.S. State Department’s special representative for North Korea, and Deputy Secretary of State Joseph Sullivan were both in attendance” at the funeral.
Read more about what happened to Otto Warmbier here: