Otto Warmbier, the college student held prisoner in North Korea who arrived home last week in a coma, has died, his family said Monday.
The 22-year-old Cincinnati-area native arrived home after 17 months in captivity with severe brain damage. He never regained consciousness.
“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,” his parents said in a statement Monday afternoon.
"At least he got home to his parents," said President Trump, speaking at an American Technology Council roundtable. North Korea, he said, is "a brutal regime and we'll be able to handle it."
In a formal statement released by the White House, Trump said "Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. There is nothing more tragic for a parent that to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.”
GOP Sen. John McCain, who spent more than five years as a POW during the Vietnam War, minced no words in reacting to Warmbier's death. "Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime."
The student had sobbed in court as he confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting the country last year. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in a North Korean prison.
Warmbier’s father, Fred, accused the North Koreans of torturing his son.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier received no news about their son while he was behind bars in the communist state. The University of Virginia student was allowed no consular visits.
My full statement on the passing of Otto Warmbier: pic.twitter.com/KT538qw6tb— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) June 19, 2017
This month, his family and U.S. officials were told he had been in a coma for more than a year. He was flown to Cincinnati via a medical airlift and arrived at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center last Tuesday night.
My heart goes out to the loved ones of Otto Warmbier. Thinking of Otto's family & friends, & wishing them strength during this tragic time.— Sen. Al Franken (@SenFranken) June 19, 2017
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan said, “It is with great sadness that we learned of Otto’s passing this afternoon. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family and friends during what has been an incredibly difficult time. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him.”
On Thursday, doctors at the Ohio medical facility said during a press conference that Warmbier had experienced extensive tissue loss in his brain and was unable to walk, talk or respond.
"He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished," family said in their statement. "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 believed he could sense that."