Thousands mourn the death of Otto Warmbier, Ohio student detained in North Korea

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 17:29:56-04

Thousands gathered Thursday morning to say their final goodbyes to the Ohio college student who died after being detained in North Korea for more than a year.

The funeral for Otto Warmbier, 22, took place at his hometown high school, Wyoming High, in Cincinnati.

Warmbier was imprisoned in North Korea before being released in a comatose state. He died on Monday, less than a week after returning to the United States.

“There was this outpouring of support for Otto and his family,” said Senator Rob Portman, who attended his funeral.

Warmbier was described as smart, kind, and the type of guy who got along with everyone.

Warmbier's family released pictures of his phone, notebook and the clothes he wore during his last trip to North Korea. This included the blazer he wore when he made his final plea for help.

“Please save my life,” he had said, “Please think of my family...”

Warmbier grew up in the Cincinnati area in Wyoming, Ohio. He was attending the University of Virigina when his curiosity led him join a tour to North Korea.

“The treatment he received was appalling,” said Senator Portman, “He never should've been detained in the first place.”

Portman spoke about the injustices of the ruthless regime. Warmbier’s death has raised red flags about Americans traveling to hostile nations.

The company that organized Warmbier's trip confirmed to ABC news that it will no longer provide tours to North Korea.

A video was shown at Warmbier's funeral of him giving his high school graduation speech as Salutatorian.

"Everybody kind of congregated around him, he would tell stories to everybody,” said Jay Klein, friend.

His mentors described him as someone who was going to set the world on fire, and someone who was sincere and intelligent.

"It's like someone, who was related to me had passed away,” said Steve Thomas, Warmbier's former soccer coach.

The hashtag #OttoWarmbier is also trending on Twitter. People around the world are holding his family up in prayer.

One person tweeted a picture of the back of the funeral program which had the quote, "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days, before you actually left them."

Warmbier's death is also raising questions about the tour company he used. The Young Pioneer Tours Agency built its business by attracting young travelers.

It has a catalog of exotic, hard partying adventures in North Korea, one of the world's most isolated countries. The adventures include booze cruises down a North Korean River and bar crawls in Pyongyang.

Past tourists said they noticed lapses in organization, a heavy drinking culture and a cavalier attitude about traveling into the hardline communist nation.