Austin Hudson-LaPore: July 8, 1992-June 19, 2013
Yesterday was a long, difficult day. Austin was found in Lake Michigan by a fisherman.
We really tried. I hope Austin's family knows that we did everything we could think of. I hope they know that he meant so much to so many people. It's unimaginable what they must be going through and I just feel so, so sorry that this happened. I'm posting all of this on my blog because I want other people to know how special Austin was. I want other people to care.
Austin's family searched desperately for him in Chicago. His friends back home contacted every media outlet imaginable to raise awareness. The Today Show interviewed his parents, then bumped his story. Even here in Albuquerque, where Austin grew up and graduated from the Albuquerque Academy (one of our top schools), our local paper and news stations didn't care. My boss called the editor at the Albuquerque Journal to plead for them to feature Austin's story. She was hung up on. We even emailed the president (Austin lived in Hyde Park, which is where Obama used to live). All this was a desperate attempt to increase the resources available to Austin's family for the search. Is it me, or should the family of a missing child not have to beg for help?
We wanted the Chicago police to do more. I don't understand why Austin's parents had to rely on a volunteer to provide a search dog. The Chicago police have a K9 team. It is my understanding that Austin's parents requested their help, but were refused.
It's sickening. If it's any tiny consolation, Austin was at least doing what he loved. Weather fascinated him. Recently, he even got to take a trip to Antarctica, which must have been amazing for him.
He was also a Nascar fan, just like my Sexy Nerd.
I'm sure that when people hear that a student drowned in Lake Michigan, many of them think he was drunk or screwing around. For Austin, this is 100% untrue. He was unbelievably smart. He and his friends even placed second in the entire country in the National Science Bowl. Here is a photo:
That's Austin over on the right.
I wish everyone could appreciate what an amazing person the world has just been deprived of. While other kids were out getting into typical teenager trouble, Austin and his friends were studying science, for no reason other than their own interest in the subject. I don't doubt that he could have cured cancer one day or solved our energy crisis. In just a few weeks, Austin would have begun his senior year at the University of Chicago, earning a degree in biochemistry.
This is such a rambly post. I don't really know what to say. Here are a few newspaper clippings saved by Austin's friend, Ari:
Austin was 20. I'm 29. The last 9 years have been some of the best of my life. I got married, traveled the world, graduated from college, and bought my first home. I worked at a job I love, which is actually what led to me being in the loop of Austin's tragic story. My relationship with my family transitioned and improved greatly as I went from teenager to adult. It's so unfair that Austin will never get to experience any of this. What if Austin had gotten married? Somewhere out there, there could be a 20 year old girl whose entire life just changed and she will never even know it.
The other boy in the photo above are Austin's friends Ari, Ryan, and Ben. I've met Ben several times and I have watched Ari grow up. They're incredibly nice and are just all-around good people. They don't deserve to lose their friend. It's heartbreaking.
*For my regular readers, I would normally post my blog's weekly Not "Baaad" blog party tomorrow. It will return next weekend.