About 2,500 people gathered on Thursday at Wyoming High School, Wyoming, Ohio, to mourn Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American college student who died last week after spending roughly 17 months in North Korean detention.

Tributes for Otto Warmbier

According to CNN, Cynthia Meis, director of college counseling at the Wyoming High School faculty told the crowd of mourners that the tight-knit community had spent almost one and a half year holding breaths, rallying the Warmbier family and praying for his quick and unconditional release, in the midst of absence of information about Otto’s fate in North Korea’s captivity. The community was filled with sorrow over his death but celebrated what Meis described as Otto’s combination of sincerity, intelligence, and affability.

Meis told reporters that Otto Warmbier was going to set the world on fire, which made his death so profound and significant. 25-year-old Andrew Kraner, who knew Otto from childhood, said the funeral service in honor of Warmbier featured a combination of solemnity and high-spirited moments which really spoke loudly of Otto’s admired character. Kraner added that his ex-childhood friend would have had a very bright future that will never be known. “Everything they say about Otto is very true. He was the nicest kid," he added, "it’s tough, and my heart is very heavy for him.”

Emotional speeches

The venue for the memorial service was able to accommodate 800 people. The Wyoming High’s art center was the only nearest large space which was filled to capacity. Those wishing to bid farewell to Otto and could not be accommodated watched the service on screens in the overflow rooms around the school.

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Warmbier’s belongings he took with him on his supposed five-day trip to North Korea were displayed inside the arts center for mourners to see. The items include a reusable grocery bag, his wallet, a University of Virginia notebook, running and boat shoes, a crumpled linen blazer and scientific calculator.

Finally laid to rest

Among those who were present at the funeral service were Warmbier’s sister, Greta, his brother, Austin, US special representative for North Korea policy Joseph Yun and many of his friends and classmates, as stated in the funeral program.

After the service, Warmbier’s body was moved to the cemetery where he was Laid To Rest. He died just six days upon return from to the United States last week in a coma, North Korea claims Otto slipped into the coma after taking a sleeping pill which infected him with botulism, a claim which doctors dispute.