Erin Hill
June 22, 2017 10:34 AM

 

Thousands gathered at Otto Warmbier’s alma mater in Wyoming, Ohio, on Thursday to pay respects to the 22-year-old who died last week after returning from 17 months of imprisonment in North Korea.

Around 2,500 well-wishers lined up outside Wyoming High School’s arts center for the service, which was conducted by a rabbi and lasted about 45 minutes.

Bryan Woolston/AP

Among the speakers at the funeral were Warmbier’s brother, Austin, his sister, Greta, and some of his friends, according to the funeral program.

US Ambassador Joseph Yun, the special representative for North Korea policy who helped secure Warmbier’s release, was also in attendance.

Bryan Woolston/AP
Bryan Woolston/AP

The front of the funeral program featured a quote from Warmbier’s 2013 salutatorian speech: “This is our season finale. This is the end of one great show, but just the beginning to hundreds of new spinoffs.”

Bill Pugliano/Getty

Following the service, a police officer played the bagpipes as the casket was taken to a hearse.

Blue and white ribbons (Wyoming High School’s colors) adorned trees around the school to honor Warmbier.

Warmbier’s family invited the public to celebrate the University of Virginia student’s life Thursday beginning at 9 a.m. at his alma mater. Warmbier will be buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

RELATED VIDEO: Otto Warmbier Dies After Being Released From North Korean Imprisonment, Family Says

The college student was sentenced to 15 years of prison and hard labor for allegedly stealing a political propaganda poster from his Pyongyang hotel in January 2016.

He returned home to Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 13 in a coma after being “brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime,” his family said at the time.

Kyodo

His family announced his death on Monday in a heart-wrenching statement: “It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20 p.m.

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the statement continued. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched — Wyoming, Ohio, and the University of Virginia — that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”

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