Otto Warmbier may be alive today if he were brought home sooner, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
“It’s a disgrace what happened to Otto. It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.
Warmbier’s family announced Monday that Otto had died in the hospital. North Korea released the 22-year-old University of Virginia student last week after more than a year in captivity. He returned to the U.S., however, in a coma, which the North Korean regime said he had been in since March 2016.
“It should never, ever be allowed to happen, and, frankly, if he were brought home sooner, I think the result would have been a lot different,” Trump said. “He should have been brought home that same day. The result would have been a lot of different.”
Trump said he has spoken with the Warmbier family, which he called “incredible.” The family said in a statement Monday that it was their “sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. 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.”
Warmbier’s parents said he was unable to speak, see and react to verbal commands when he returned to Cincinnati on June 13. “He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished,” his parents recalled. “Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace. He was at home and we believe he could sense that.”
Trump and first lady Melania Trump offered their “deepest condolences” in a statement Monday. “There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life,” the president said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.”