Family laments loss of Austin Hudson-LaPore, thanks community - FOX 32 News Chicago

ME confirms Austin Hudson-LaPore drowned in lake, family laments loss

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Austin Hudson-LaPore, 20. Austin Hudson-LaPore, 20.
Dr. Laurie Hudson, Gregg LaPore and Aidan Hudson-LaPore. Dr. Laurie Hudson, Gregg LaPore and Aidan Hudson-LaPore.
Austin's aunt, Leigh LaPore Harris. Austin's aunt, Leigh LaPore Harris.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A sad discovery in Lake Michigan brought closure to the family of a University of Chicago student. They lamented Austin Hudson-LaPore on Thursday, and thanked the community for their support.

The Hudson-LaPore family gathered on the University of Chicago campus to talk about their loss, and thank volunteers and supporters for their efforts - just one day after his body was found.

"We want to thank everyone who has held us in their thoughts and prayers in this incredibly difficult time," Gregg LaPore said. "Your warmth and kindness have meant more to us than you will ever know."

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Austin was a 20-year-old junior majoring in biochemistry. The university released a statement through Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Karen Warren Coleman, saying the community is deeply saddened:

"Austin was a bright, promising student who was active on campus, had a great love for the outdoors, and was very engaged in the Shorey House community," the statement said. "The University community sends our deepest sympathy and condolences to Austin's family and his friends here at the University and across the country."

He had just finished his final exams on June 12, when he left his campus apartment around 8:30 p.m. and disappeared last Wednesday.

He left his cellphone and wallet behind, which leads family members to believe he headed to the lakefront to watch a series of massive thunderstorms rolling through Chicago that night. They said Austin loved the outdoors and was absolutely fascinated by extreme weather.

"What we see so far suggests that this was a tragic accident," Austin's aunt Leigh LaPore Harris said. "Austin loved watching the weather. A stormy night on the lakefront with some free time after his finals would have been hard for him to resist."

On Thursday afternoon, the medical examiner confirmed his family's suspicions, declaring the cause of death as an accidental drowning.

Within 24 hours of his disappearance, Chicago police and University of Chicago police scoured the area. Friends and supporters posted flyers throughout Hyde Park, while others reached out through social media.

His father, mother and sister flew in from their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to take part in the search efforts. A man fishing near the 39th street beach saw a body floating in the Lake Michigan water and called 911.

Family members identified the body as their missing loved one on Wednesday afternoon.

"Austin is not just a loss to our family, but a loss to mankind," the Hudson-LaPore family said in a statement to FOX 32 News. "He had the potential to solve scientific problems. He was really an Albert Einstein of today. He was going to be a leader, pioneer of science."

A spokesperson for the University of Chicago says plans for an on-campus memorial to celebrate Austin's life will be formulated soon.

The family has also created a website to honor Austin, for friends and people who knew Austin to share their stories and memories.

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