In a seemingly inexplicable decision, the family of North Korean detainee and former American college student Otto Warmbier have objected to an autopsy to determine the cause of the 22-year-old’s death. The result? That cause of death remains a mystery, at least for now.
According to Ohio’s Hamilton County Coroner’s Office, the family of Otto Warmbier expressly objected to having an autopsy performed on the recently deceased young man, and that “objection to an autopsy was honored.” Because of that objection, the only examination performed on the young man who died less than a week after returning to the U.S. from North Korea was an external one.
As CNN reports, the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office received the body of Otto Warmbier and performed a cursory external exam after his death on Monday. In addition to performing an external examination on Warmbier’s remains, the coroner’s office also reportedly looked over Otto’s University of Cincinnati Medical Center medical records as well as the medical records recorded by the air transport team that brought Otto Warmbier home from Pyongyang, where he was held as a North Korean prisoner for 17 months after being arrested for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel.
In addition, the medical examiner handling the Warmbier case claims to have engaged in “extensive” conversations with his treating physician.
According to North Korean officials, Otto Warmbier contracted botulism while in their custody. They claimed that the young man had fallen into a coma after becoming infected and taking a sleeping pill. The 22-year-old had been in the country as part of a sightseeing tour in January 2016, prior to being taken into custody for allegedly committing theft.
He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office has issued a statement regarding the actual cause of Otto Warmbier’s death. Unfortunately, at this point, it raises far more questions than answers in the high-profile case.
“No conclusions about the cause and manner of Mr. Warmbier’s death have been drawn at this time as there are additional medical records and imaging to review and people to interview.”
The death of Warmbier has become a serious international incident, with many calling on the Trump administration to take harsh action against the North Korean regime as a result. Since his inauguration, Trump and his team worked to secure Otto Warmbier’s release from the Korean peninsula. When he finally returned home last week, he was suffering from severe brain damage and was in a persistent vegetative state.
— CEE (@1stGirlPres) June 21, 2017
Why would they throw blame and then NOT do a full autopsy?
— Elizabeth (@mysegovia) June 20, 2017
Do we really want Otto Warmbier to be our lynchpin for a war with North Korea? Is this a false flag situation?
— Carter (@OperativeCarter) June 21, 2017
There's something wrong here. Why wouldn't you want to know all the details?
— Cottage Cat ???? (@CottageImagin) June 20, 2017
@Local12 I am very troubled by this. Deep sympathies to the family, but what are they thinking?
— katie dd (@ViciaAmericana) June 21, 2017
His family has blamed his condition and subsequent death on Barack Obama.
American physicians who treated Warmbier upon his return to the states have declined to speculate on a cause of Warmbier’s condition and ultimately his death, but have stated that he showed no signs of suffering from botulism as alleged by North Korean officials.
“This pattern of brain injury 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 family declines autopsy – The family of American college student Otto Warmbier objected to an autopsy,… https://t.co/MYJXqd1KTC
— Social Media Hub (@Social_Media_d3) June 21, 2017
Doctors did not speculate as to what may have caused cardiopulmonary arrest in Otto Warmbier, a previously healthy 20-something.
It is unknown at this time precisely why the family of Otto Warmbier opted to decline an autopsy in his perplexing case.
[Featured Image by Jon Chol Jin/AP Images]