Amid graduation celebrations at the University of Virginia, students remembered the absence of their fellow Cavalier, Otto Warmbier #FreeOttoOn Saturday, May 20, University of Virginia students walked across stage and celebrated the achievement of their degrees. Despite the celebratory spirit, students solemnly acknowledged the absence of their fellow Cavalier, Otto Warmbier. Students donned stickers and used the hashtag #FreeOtto to return attention to the troubling case of the imprisoned classmate. https://twitter.com/cavalierdaily/status/866677540043280384 Slated to graduate in 2017, Ohio native Otto Warmbier's life took an unexpected turn in January of 2016. Warmbier, 21 years old and in his junior year at the University of Virginia, booked a trip to North Korea through Young Pioneer Tours, a Xi'an, China-based tourism company. The company advertises their business as "budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from.”
Otto Warmbier never boarded the return flight to China.After the highly-supervised five-day tour through Pyongyang, the group of about 20 tourists headed to the airport for the return flight to China. The trip to the airport on the government-sponsored bus was uneventful; travelers' passports (which they had surrendered upon arrival) were returned to them. However, at the immigration line in the airport, things did not go according to plan for Warmbier. The media officer for Young Pioneer Tours, a young British woman named Charlotte Guttridge, was the only non-Korean individual to witness what unfolded.
Officers rushed Guttridge through immigration, while Warmbier remained at the passport control desk. From the other side of the checkpoint, Guttridge saw Warmbrier escorted into a room adjacent to the immigration desks. Guttridge boarded the plane where other tourists discussed how he had been drinking heavily the night before. They suspected he drank too much and became too sick to board. Before the plane departed, an officer approached Guttridge and told her Warmbier was "very sick" and being transported to a hospital. The officer said that Warmbier would be released the next day or the next week.