Rep. Sean Casten Offers Details Surrounding 17-Year-Old Daughter Gwen's Death

Congressman Sean Casten with his daughters Gwen, left, and Audrey, walk through the U.
Congressman Sean Casten with his daughters Gwen, left, and Audrey, walk through the U.  

Congressman Sean Casten with his daughters Gwen, left, and Audrey, walk through the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 4, 2019. (Photo: Chicago Tribune via Getty Images)

Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) has shared more information about the death of his 17-year-old daughter, Gwen, revealing that she died in her sleep.

The congressman's office said in a short tweet Monday that Gwen had died that morning. The Downers Grove Police Department said it was called to a home in suburban Chicago just before 7 a.m. where the teen had been found unresponsive, and first responders determined she was deceased, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In a lengthy statement on Wednesday, Casten said there were "no words to describe the hole in your heart when a child dies."

"On Sunday night, we had dinner as a family and then she went out with some friends for a few hours. When she got home, she said goodnight to Kara and I, texted a friend to make sure she got home OK, and didn't wake up on Monday morning," he wrote.

"The only thing we know about her death is that it was peaceful. And the only lesson we can take from that is to savor the moments you have with your loved ones. We want purpose. We want to believe in a brighter tomorrow. But the only thing we can control is our present."

Casten said his daughter was a "happy, healthy, well-adjusted young woman" who was looking forward to starting her freshman year at the University of Vermont, where she was planning to study environmental science.

She was passionate about music and activism. She played trumpet in the jazz band, the wind ensemble and the pit orchestra at Downers Grove North High School.

After the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, Gwen was inspired to create an Empowerment Club at her high school, which became one of the school's largest clubs, "focusing on everything from gun violence prevention to environmental protection to LGBTQ allyship to organizing Black Lives Matter rallies to registering students to vote," Casten wrote.

According to Gwen's Twitter bio, she was also a co-founder of the Illinois chapter of March For Our Lives, the student-led movement born after the Parkland shooting that fights to end gun violence.

Casten's note was signed by himself, his wife, Kara, and their 14-year-old daughter, Audrey.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.


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