VoteCasten/Twitter Gwen Casten
Gwen Casten, the 17-year-old daughter of Illinois Rep. Sean Casten, has died, the congressman's office confirmed in a tweet Monday.
"This morning, Congressman Casten's beloved daughter, Gwen (17), passed away," the tweet from the Democrat, who was elected in 2018, read. "The Casten family requests privacy, and we will be issuing no further comment during this heartbreaking time."
This morning, Congressman Casten’s beloved daughter, Gwen (17), passed away. The Casten family requests privacy, and we will be issuing no further comment during this heartbreaking time.
— Rep. Sean Casten (@RepCasten) June 14, 2022
Casten's office did not add any information about her cause of death. The Chicago-Tribune reports that Downers Grove police said they were called to a home in the area Monday, "for an unresponsive seventeen year old female," where "first responders determined that the subject was deceased."
The teenager graduated from Downers Grove North High School in May and was headed to the University of Vermont in the fall to study environmental science. She recently appeared in a campaign video supporting her father's bid for reelection and detailing how turning 18 would signify a "big year."
"Lots of milestones," Gwen said in the ad. "Like voting for the first time. But not just for anyone ... Sean Casten. My Congressman. But I just call him dad."
🚨 BIG NEWS: Sean just released a new digital ad!!
In Congress, Sean is working to enshrine a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, combat gun violence, & ban Members of Congress from trading stock.
Chip in now to keep these ads running: https://t.co/zwkQBqyN7A pic.twitter.com/SmO3xZgn61
— Team Sean Casten (@VoteCasten) June 2, 2022
In an Instagram post, the AAPI Student Union at her high school said it was "heartbroken over the loss," going on to describe the "key role" Gwen played "in bringing about positive change" to her high school.
"Gwen was a leader and a friend ... She was a highly accomplished student at North, being involved in various activities, from Changemakers, band, NHS, math team, and tennis, all while being on the high honor roll. Gwen and her father @repseancasten recognized the importance of protecting the environment and the dangers that arose if we kept polluting our planet."
The club added that Gwen was "always there to help anyone in need and give a listening ear," and described her as a ally who "did whatever she could to support and amplify [People of Color's] voices."
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Sean Casten
"Carrying on her legacy means standing up for what you believe in, and going above and beyond to make the world a better place," the post added. "Rest in peace Gwen."
Her high school's Empowerment Club, which she founded, also took to Instagram to commemorate Gwen's life, writing "There are no words that can begin to describe the loss we are feeling."
The post continued: "Gwen, founder and leader of Empowerment Club, was cherished by all. Her hard work, determination, and beautiful personality were inspirations to everyone. She was so loved, and her incredible impact will live forever within our community. Thank you Gwen, for everything you have done to influence our lives and fill them with love and positivity. You were truly a force to be reckoned with. We will miss you."