L-W Central Football Player Dies From Heart Attack

16-year-old Austin Lempera died Monday night in New Lenox.

A Lincoln-Way Central football player died Monday night of an apparent heart attack, Will County Sheriff's Police said.

New Lenox Township resident Austin Lempera, 16, was pronounced dead at 7:54 p.m. after he was taken to Silver Cross Hospital.

While an autopsy is scheduled for later today by the Will County Coroner's Office, physicians at Silver Cross Hospital reported that it appears that Lempera died of an undiagnosed heart condition. Tests revealed that his condition looked as though he suffered from a cardiac arrhythmia.  

Lempera, a high school junior, was an offensive lineman on the Lincoln-Way Central Knights football team. 

The Lincoln-Way Central High School community today mourned Lempora's death. Grief counselors, psychologists and social workers from all four Lincoln-Way high schools were on-hand to support students as they grapple with the loss of a friend, said Stacy Holland, community relations director for LWHS District 210. 

Students were invited to seek help in dealing with the death of a friend so close to the Thanksgiving holiday. The team of grief counselors worked out of the school's Round Table Hall. 

"Teachers were asked to send students down if they needed to talk," added Holland.   

According to the Will County Sheriff's Department, family members found Lempera lying on the floor in the basement workout area of his home. He was  lying next to an iPod and a jump rope. New Lenox Fire Protection District was called to the scene at 6:50 p.m.

"Nothing suspicious was found in the home," said Kathy Hoffmeyer, sheriff's department spokeswoman. Lempera's family members told authorities that he was an athlete. "He was in good shape."

Supt. Lawrence Wyllie expressed his condolences. 

“On behalf of the board of education, administration, faculty, staff and students of all Lincoln-Way High Schools we want to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of junior Austin Lempera. While Austin attended Lincoln-Way Central, New Lenox, he was a fine student, a member of the varsity football team and a loyal Knight. He was a very hardworking student and a wonderful young man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

Fellow students shared their grief on Twitter using the hash tag #RIPaustin

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Did you know Austin? Share your memories in the comments below. 

The Lincoln-Way community has experienced far too many losses of young people, especially in the last year-plus. In April 2012, Lincoln-Way Central golf and baseball captain Tommy Schumann died from an undetected heart condition. In 2011, New Lenox resident Patrick Mizwicki died after he was hit by a car while practicing with the Lincoln-Way East cross country team. 

There's been so much tragedy locally that former Central student Kim Phillips organized an event in June 2012 to pay tribute to the local students who have died young. "Remembering New Lenox's Fallen Angels" could become an annual event, Phillips said. 

On Facebook: Readers say athletes should have mandatory cardiac testing

roscrea November 20, 2012 at 06:46 PM
It's about time cardiac screening is made MANDATORY for all IHSA athletes. I'm sick of reading stories like this.
Jessica R November 20, 2012 at 09:13 PM
http://www.midwestheart.org/young-hearts-for-life Lincoln-Way Central is not listed as one of the participating schools. Maybe someone from the school can contact Young Heart for Life to set up screening at the school and hopefully this tragedy won't happen again.
Nancy November 20, 2012 at 11:09 PM
We need to get educated on the dangers of energy drinks and supplements. My husband died from exactly the same thing cardiac arrhythmia due to an undiagnosed heart condition.... they said the same thing about Tommy Schuman... I'm telling you after 2 years of research I've done, I have medical journal reports showing concerns from years ago, I guarantee you my husband's death was due to the over usage of energy drinks! My husband did not have an undiagnosed heart condition.....he gave himself one. I feel in my heart of hearts Austin, as well as Tommy, did not have an undiagnosed heart condition either. They fit the bill, young, athletic, and lied to by the criminal corporations only wishing to make money preying on our youth. My heart is breaking for this family, and I pray for God's constant comfort to them.
Unidentified High School Senior November 20, 2012 at 11:37 PM
This just breaks my heart. We've already lost another loved friend, Tommy Schuman, due to the same thing, There can be a number of different reasons or things that play into it, but either way doctors need to screen better, and teens need to know the dangers of energy drinks also. This just saddens me so much. I never knew Austin, but my heart just aches for everyone that did, and everyone in the Lincoln Way community. Once a Knight, always a Knight.
Lynn Schuman November 21, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Nancy--I am sorry about your husband! I completely agree with you about the dangers of energy drinks. However, please do not make assumptions about Austin or Tommy using energy drinks much less overusing them. Thank you.
Michelle November 21, 2012 at 12:25 PM
My heart just aches for the family and friends of Austin. God bless you and comfort you during this most difficult time of grief. Twice in 8 months is 2 too many! Let good come from these tragic losses and have your athlete tested! I was researching and the good news is there is free testing available at schools! We need this to be mandatory right with concussion testing! http://www.midwestheart.org/young-hearts-for-life/school-information
Jeannie Walton November 21, 2012 at 01:25 PM
They asked us to leave memories of Austin. Often when you have a loved one die people say ridiculous things to the family. I have experienced this and have also in the past said a few well meaning words. Our opinions do not matter. Taking the subject beyond a family losing a child is in poor taste. Respect others and find another forum to say them. When someone dies it is a time to mourn with those who mourn. How will his parents feel in time to come when they read peoples comments. The old saying If you have nothing good positive moral kind to say say SAY NOTHING at all. Bless this family with your words.
Unidentified High School Senior November 21, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I had open heart surgery too as well. When I was 2 months old. I never drank energy drinks at that age, and I don't now. I'm not saying they have nothing to do with it, all I'm saying is that not everyone drinks them.
Candace November 21, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Christine, I don't think Nancy meant to insult you or any other parent. These drinks are everywhere and they're marked with kids in mind. So many people do not know the dangers to these drinks. She is simply pointing out that kids that are experienceing deadly consequences from these drinks. At times like this I think we could all use a little grace and not become so defensive. Her concern and post was out of heart for educating people from a horrible loss. The family needs our support and prayers and I hope we can all focus on that.
John Roberts November 21, 2012 at 02:26 PM
All of the regulations of the healthcare system when the politicians were complaining that Dr.s were performing unneeded tests with no probable cause to test in the firs place...This is the kind of blowback we get from it....If Dr.s parents see kids dropping dead while performing sports then it would be right to test for it...But to the insurance companies and regulators it's like screening we on for breast cancer with put a cause to test....The ole catch 22 damned if you do and damned if you don't....I would not put my kid into football everyone wanted me to he is 12 and 6 ft weighs about 180 and strong...He got to play flag football at school and we just now got done with months of mri's,4 different Dr.s and 2 different places,2 casts and 2 splints from 1 injury from 1 game......to me every test there can be done should be..even bone density tests..but not according to the insurance companies that un needed testing their being charged..
Pam November 21, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Can you people arguing take it elsewhere? Yeah, the discussion is important, but let people mourn for a while, ok? Have some compassion. I first met Austin when he was a first-grader with my daughter. Even back then he was the happiest, most enthusiastic kid in class, and he always said hello to me first. He sure seemed destined for great things even then. I hope his family finds peace.
John Roberts November 21, 2012 at 02:35 PM
It is no wonder we have all of these problems when we are born we get an immunization shot that contains mercury like almost every immunization shot has...according to the CDC the very first shot contains enough Mercury that a baby would have to be 185 lbs and active to be able to process the mercury....and the other fact is that the CDC says there is NO safe amount of mercury for the human body al all....look how many people have pictures of their kids now on the Internet that shows their kids before immunization shots and after and I am telling you,you can see the damage in the kids faces,droopy eyes,lack of attention,dazed looks ....and most of the kids on the Internet their parents have said the child is diagnosed with Autisim....Funny now that at first makers of the immunizations denied the fact and even threatened to sue any independent company that did test on their products but the did their own testing and said they were all safe and now it is known that the makers are the only ones who do the testing...Federal law prohibits testing of immunizations...VIA Lobbyest that worked for the makers of the immunizations...
Barron Von Lichtenstein November 21, 2012 at 05:56 PM
RIP, brave Knight.
Ruth smith November 21, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Lynn, enough said, thank you. We have know idea what happened to these fine young men, it is a tragic loss, let's leave it at that.... Please !!
Tracy November 21, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Candace, very well said, and thank you! For those of you getting defensive and accusing someone of saying "ridiculous" things to the family, I think maybe you should look into the research on the dangers of energy drinks and open your mind the fact that it is a very real possibility that they are solely what are causing these fatal "cardiac arrythmias." Nancy is my best friend, I know her better than anyone and EVERYTHING that was written in her post was not only the truth, but was good, positive, moral and kind! I've been over much of the same research about energy drinks, and am certain that they are killing, not only our children, but adults like Nancy's husband, as well. What Nancy is doing is trying to save any more families from having to go through the grief of losing a loved one due to something that can be prevented! Because of her, in the future, lives will be saved and those of you throwing out false accusations and insults will instead be thanking her because it could have been your child or husband. It's not like anyone is accusing these kids of doing drugs or something...they have NO idea that what they are drinking is harming them in any way! In fact, they are advertised to them as being "healthy."
Tracy November 21, 2012 at 11:53 PM
By the way, I'd like to add that I did drink energy drinks in college...I ended up in the hospital because they caused a problem with my heart!
Phantom Pain November 22, 2012 at 08:13 AM
Tracy I am sure she and you mean well, but I clicked on this thread to hear some great stories and memories about a young man I never knew. In this forum to bring up what your and Nancy's scenario for a cause of death is, and invoke the name of Tommy Schuman is absolutely ridiculous! You may as well hand out flyers at the wake warning of the dangers of energy drinks. I am very sorry for the families loss, as well as Nancy's loss.
Counselor, M.A. November 22, 2012 at 05:57 PM
It seems to me that each person is responding out of their own pain and loss. Trying to spread information is a way a person can feel they are helping prevent another tragedy. Often there is no place to speak out and a person chooses a forum that they may find healing for him/herself or someone else. Debating whether this is right or wrong is just a reflection of how people are feeling -- sad, angry, helpless, disbelieving, etc. It seems that it would be beneficial to read between the lines where the pain is, and realize that everyone is really trying to express the same thing.
Matt November 23, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Since I was 14, I always thought I had an undiagnosed heart condition when I had chest pain & a racing heart rate all the time. Although unlike Austin, I wasn't exactly in good shape. It wasn't until just recently (20) that I managed to do everything I can to make sure I didn't have a heart problem. After quite a few cardiac tests, it turns out I don't have anything abnormal with my heart. But what I am trying to get to here, is that if anyone is suspecting chest pain or anything wrong with the heart, please make it a point to get it checked out. It absolutely crushes me that not only someone only 16 passed away like that, but the fact that he was in healthy physical shape too. My deepest prayers will go out to Austin and his family, and I wish them the absolute best to cope with everything. If you or a loved one are an athlete or active in anything physically exerting such as football or another sport, please get checked out regularly by your doctor. Sometimes we overkill our bodies and it may be too much for us. For the most part, sports are great and I loved playing as a kid and watching sports today, but if you work too hard or have any health conditions, please contact your doctor! :) Sorry this is a lot to read, but if this helps anyone in any way shape or form, I appreciate you taking the time to read this.


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