DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — Gwen Casten, the daughter of Illinois Representative Sean Casten, died of a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, the family announced Friday.

The 17-year-old was found unresponsive last June inside the Casten residence after returning home from an evening with friends, according to a statement released by the family.

“We don’t know what caused the arrhythmia, and likely never will,” the family said.

Gwen was a healthy 2022 teenager. She ate well, exercised, got regular check-ups, didn’t suffer from any behavioral health issues, and had close relationships with family and friends. She was fully vaccinated, and quarantined after occasional positive, asymptomatic COVID tests during the omicron wave. She had just come home from an evening with friends, went to bed and didn’t wake up.  

“We are heartbroken, but we are not unique. Sudden, unexplained heart-failure among young, healthy people is rare but real. We are left grasping at the wrong end of random chance.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of love we’ve received over these past months. We’ve cried again over each of your letters, messages, meals, and flowers, but they are appreciated. We are also grateful for the donations to the Downers Grove North Friends of Fine Arts and March for Our Lives, causes that Gwen was actively engaged in during high school. It is a comfort to know how many lives Gwen touched over her 17 years.

“She had a big, beautiful, kind, loving heart. And it stopped, as all must. 

“None of us know when our last heartbeat will come. The best we can hope for is that when our loved ones do pass, we will have no regrets about the time we were lucky enough to share. 

“So hug the folks you love a little harder today. Be present in their lives. And spread your love a little farther. Because in the end, it’s all that remains.”