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Illinois Rep. Sean Casten reveals new details about daughter’s death: ‘It was peaceful’

Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., issued a statement about the death of his daughter Gwen, including some words about how she lived her life and some details about the evening before she died.

Gwen Casten, 17, died Monday morning, according to the congressman’s office, and so far no cause of death has been revealed. Casten’s statement, posted to Twitter Wednesday, did not seem to indicate that anything unusual happened beforehand.

“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,” Casten said. “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.”

Police in Downers Grove, Illinois, said they were called to the Casten home around 6:48 a.m. for an unresponsive 17-year-old female and determined that she was deceased. 


Gwen’s death comes as Casten is in the middle of seeking a third term in Congress in Illinois’ newly redrawn 6th district.

“There are no words to describe the hole in your heart when a child dies,” Casten’s statement said. He described Gwen as “a happy, healthy, well adjusted young woman” who was preparing to start college at the University of Vermont in the fall. 

He recalled her love of music and activism, specifically her performances with her school’s jazz band, wind ensemble, and pit orchestra, as well as her creation of a school Empowerment Club where she and fellow students dedicated their time to issues including gun violence, the environment, LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter rallies, and voter registration.

“To all asking what they can do, we ask only that you live your lives as Gwen lived hers. Savor the moments. Use every ounce of energy you have to ensure a better, more tolerant, more generous, more loving tomorrow,” Casten concluded. “Not because you know that your tomorrow will come, but because you know that someone else’s will. Lead with Love.”

Fox News’ Lorraine Taylor contributed to this report.

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