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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

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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