The parents of Otto Warmbier have provided the horrific details of their first encounter with their son after he was flown home from North Korea in a near-vegetative state. Fred and Cindy Warmbier joined Fox & Friends to speak publicly for the first time since their son died in June.
On Jan. 2, 2016, University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier was arrested for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster from the Yanggakdo International Hotel the day before. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being found guilty for a “hostile act” against the country.
Warmbier’s story became more tragic when it was discovered that he had fallen into a coma while imprisoned. The “Hermit Kingdom” blamed Warmbier’s condition on foodborne botulism, but when the unresponsive Warmbier was finally released back to the U.S. after months of negotiations spearheaded by President Donald Trump’s administration, it was quickly discovered that his condition was likely a result of torture and neglect.
“They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him,” Warmbier’s father said.
“They are not victims, they’re terrorists,” he continued.
The elder Warmbiers then recounted the graphic details of their son’s appearance on arrival tin the United States.
“We walked over to the plane, the engines are still humming, they had just landed … when we got halfway up the steps we heard this howling, involuntary inhuman sound,” he said. “We weren’t really certain what it was.”
“Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently,” Warmbier’s father said.
“He was blind. He was deaf,” he said. “As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”
Otto was in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” able to blink but unable to move voluntarily and interact with surroundings.
His condition only worsened in the days to follow.
“Within two days of Otto being home, his fever spiked to 104 degrees,” Warmbier said. “He had a large scar on his right foot.”
Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center then discovered that Otto Warmbier had suffered extensive tissue loss in all areas of his brain, but could not determine the exact cause. However, they could determine that botulism was most certainly not the culprit.
According to Dr. Daniel Kanter, director and professor of neurology at UC Health’s Neurocritical Care Program, Warmbier’s specific type of brain tissue loss “is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where blood supply to (the) brain is inadequate for a period of time, resulting in the death of brain tissue.”
Warmbier eventually succumbed to his injuries, dying on Jun. 19, 2017 at the age of 22.
“No mother, no parent should ever have gone through what we went through,” his mother told Fox & Friends.
“And the fact that Otto was alone all that time with no one to comfort him is inexcusable,” she continued.
When host Ainsley Earhardt asked the grief-stricken parents why North Korea would send their son home in such a dire condition, Otto’s father made clear that it doesn’t make sense to try to rationalize the actions of an irrational nation.
“How can you question what a terrorist country does?” he said. “They’re terrorists, this is what they do.”
“We owe it to the world to list North Korea as a state sponsor of terror.”
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