Libertyville High School grad known for academic pursuits dies in Iowa crash

  • Connor Robinson

    Connor Robinson

Updated 10/28/2014 8:33 PM

Family and friends remained stunned Tuesday by the death of Connor Robinson, a 2014 graduate of Libertyville High School who was killed in a crash on a two-lane highway in rural Iowa.

The 18-year-old, known for his academic interests, was a freshman at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. He spent the weekend visiting friends in Libertyville, but it is uncertain what happened in the time leading up to the crash at 12:13 p.m. Monday, about a mile west of Calamus, Iowa.


According to the Clinton County sheriff's office, Robinson was driving east on Highway 30 in a Honda CR-V when the driver of a semitrailer truck headed west saw the car cross the centerline.

The truck driver, a 57-year-old man from Forrest Lake, Minnesota, tried to take evasive action, but the car struck the semi on the driver's side, according to police. Robinson, who was alone in the car, was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver was not injured. No tickets were issued.

"He was a very smart kid," said his father, Andy, who served on Libertyville's plan commission/zoning board of appeals for about four years. "Very bright. He was a voracious reader."

He said Connor twice made it to the semifinals to be a contestant on the television show "Jeopardy!" including a trip to Kansas City last November.

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The family moved from California to Libertyville in 1999 and recently moved back to Oceanside, California.

"It's just incredibly sad. A bright young kid," said Howard Jaffee, who served with Andy Robinson on the plan commission.

While at Libertyville High School, Connor Robinson served on the executive board of the Model United Nations Club, which trains students to understand the problems of countries throughout the world. He also was an Illinois State Scholar.

He was selected by Libertyville American Legion Post 329 to represent the high school at a weeklong event called Illinois Boys State, concentrating on citizenship and government. While there, Robinson was elected to the county board of supervisors and as one of eight senators representing their respective counties.

Robinson also was a member of the Interact student service club, Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering, and the Latin clubs at Libertyville High.

"As a member of the Science Olympiad team, he medaled in events at both the regional and state level. He had an amazing love of astronomy and was always willing to help the team in any way he could," coach Ursula Ahern said.


Robinson was attending Cornell College on a four-year academic scholarship. The liberal arts school with about 1,100 students is known for its "One Course At A Time" curriculum.

In his brief time on campus, he was "deeply involved and connected" with the Performing Arts and Activities Council, a student organization involving artists, comedians, musicians and other kinds of entertainment, said Jamie Kelly, college spokesman.

There was a gathering Monday night at the residence hall where Robinson lived and a memorial service Tuesday. Counselors have been made available.

"Cornell is a close-knit community and everyone is affected," Cornell President Jonathan Brand said.

Calamus is about halfway between Mt. Vernon and the Iowa border with Illinois. Where Robinson had been or where he was going was not immediately known. Weather was not a factor and toxicology test results are pending, police said.

Robinson is survived by his parents, Andy and Lisa; a brother, Dylan; and sister, Chelsea. Services in Libertyville have not been finalized.

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