Family members are mourning the loss of 18-year-old Connor Priesz, who was pulled from the Fox River late Tuesday afternoon and was pronounced dead Wednesday morning.
The recent Prairie Ridge High School graduate was tossing a football with friends in a shallow portion of the river in Crystal Lake when he slid under the water.
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An eyewitness said Connor Priesz made a strange facial expression before either having a seizure or passing out in the water about 4 p.m., according to his father, Brian Priesz.
Brian Priesz said his son was playing catch with about 10 friends, and at first, the friends thought he was horsing around when he went under the water. The friends began searching for him but did not find Connor for a few minutes due to the murky water conditions, officials said.
"He was just underwater for too long," Brian Priesz said Wednesday night.
McHenry County sheriff's officials measured the area where Connor Priesz was found at 3.5 feet deep, according to his father.
Connor Priesz was unconscious when his friends pulled him to shore, and he never regained consciousness at Centegra Hospital in McHenry. He was pronounced dead about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, and the Priesz family decided to donate his organs to Gift of Hope.
"I feel most bad for him that he didn't get his fair turn at bat in life, but there's a positive too -- maybe this will help somebody else out," Brian Priesz said.
Paramedics from the Nunda Rural Fire Protection District responded to the scene on the 400 block of Timber Lane along with McHenry County sheriff's marine unit and road deputies, said Undersheriff Andrew Zinke.
"He was there with a few friends out swimming," Zinke said. "The kids saw him go under; they thought he was just joking around."
Brian Priesz said an autopsy performed Wednesday indicated there were no drugs or alcohol in his system, and Zinke said there was no indication of alcohol or drugs at the scene. Brian Priesz said there were parents near the area where the friends were swimming.
"I don't know if there is anything that could have prevented this," Zinke said. "It's a sad case."
Connor Priesz, the oldest of three children, was preparing to head to Northern Illinois University in the fall, according to his father.
"It was going to be interesting to sit back and see," Brian Priesz said. "It was going to be the next chapter of life getting out on his own and expanding his horizon."
Brian Priesz described his and his wife Janet's son as a great and responsible older brother to 15-year-old Jared and 12-year-old sister Morgan.