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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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.