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updated: 7/12/2012 4:54 PM

Coroner's office can't explain why Crystal Lake teen drowned

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  • Connor Priesz, 18, of Crystal Lake died Wednesday morning, two days after friends pulled his body from the Fox River. The coroner's office ruled his death a drowning.

      Connor Priesz, 18, of Crystal Lake died Wednesday morning, two days after friends pulled his body from the Fox River. The coroner's office ruled his death a drowning.
    Photo courtesy of the Priesz family


An official with the McHenry County Coroner's Office said Thursday that it cannot prove whether a teenager had a seizure before he drowned in a portion of the Fox River near Crystal Lake.

"Whatever caused him to go into the water might be unexplainable, but his cause of death will definitely be as a result of a drowning," Deputy Coroner Curt Bradshaw said.

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Connor Priesz, 18, of Crystal Lake, a recent graduate of Prairie Ridge High School, had been tossing a football around with 10 friends in a shallow portion of the river on Monday afternoon and was dunking his head under the water and eventually didn't come back up, his mother, Janet Priesz, said.

According to Connor's father, Brian, an eyewitness saw the Crystal Lake teen make a strange facial expression and suspected he either had a seizure or passed out in the water.

But Bradshaw says there is no way to determine whether Connor had a seizure because it's not something that would turn up in an autopsy or in hospital tests. There's also no indication he'd had seizures or head injuries in the past, Bradshaw said.

"You can only see a seizure when it's happening," Bradshaw said. "Could that have been what happened? Yes, but we're not going to be able to prove that."

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 donated his organs to Gift of Hope.

His mother said the family has talked to several doctors about why her son might have drowned, but that they haven't been able to get answers there, either.

"We will never know," she said.

An autopsy completed Wednesday indicated there were no drugs or alcohol in Connor's system, and police have said there was no alcohol or drugs at the scene.

Connor's funeral will be held Saturday.

His visitation is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Davenport Family Funeral Home in Crystal Lake. It will be followed by a 4 p.m. memorial service at Bethany Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake.

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