Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten’s 17-year-old daughter, Gwen, died Monday morning at the family’s Downers Grove home, his office and police announced.
Downers Grove police went to the Casten home about 6:50 a.m. Monday after receiving a call about an unresponsive teen, the department said in a news release. Gwen was dead, first responders determined, and the DuPage County coroner’s office was called. Her death is under investigation.
Casten’s office released a brief statement Monday night.
“The Casten family requests privacy, and we will be issuing no further comment during this heartbreaking time,” the statement said, in part.
A spokesman for Casten, who serves the 6th District and is seeking reelection this year, declined to comment further.
A recent Downers Grove North High School graduate, Gwen Casten was an honor roll student and an Illinois State Scholar. She was active with the Downers Grove North Empowerment Club and the student newspaper, the Omega.
Last year, she and her father wrote about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol for the Omega.
Gwen also was a leader with the student-led March For Our Lives gun control group.
Earlier this month, Sean Casten said in an interview with Newsy that Gwen, in response to mass shootings at schools, had organized a program in which teens were taught how to treat gunshot wounds.
“I both have tremendous pride that my daughter took the initiative to organize that, and tremendous shame that we as a country are making it the responsibility of … kids to do what sitting United States senators do not have the courage to do themselves,” said Casten, an outspoken gun-control advocate.
Gwen — along with her mother, Kara, and sister, Audrey — was at her father’s side when he was sworn in as a congressman for the first time in January 2019.
Gwen appeared earlier this month in a digital ad touting her father’s legislative priorities. She was an intern on her father’s campaign in 2020, too.
Now running for a third term in Congress, Sean Casten facing U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange and Nicor Gas operation mechanic Charles Hughes of Chicago in the June 28 Democratic primary for the 6th District seat. Newman now serves the 3rd but chose to run in the 6th after legislative boundaries were redrawn last year.
The Casten campaign has temporarily halted its TV advertising. The Newman campaign is stopping all ads comparing the two candidates, too.
“My heart breaks for the Casten family for the devastating loss of their daughter,” Newman said in an email Monday night. “My prayers are with Sean, Kara, and the entire Casten family.”
Hughes also expressed his family’s sympathies in an email.
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Highland Park, who has endorsed Casten this year, said he was “devastated” by the news of Gwen’s death.
“May the family have privacy and peace at this time, knowing our community holds them in our hearts, and may Gwen’s memory be a blessing for all who knew her,” Schneider said.
Kind words came from across the political aisle as well, with all six 6th District Republican candidates — Niki Conforti of Glen Ellyn, Rob Cruz of Oak Lawn, Gary Grasso of Burr Ridge, Scott Kaspar of Orland Park, Catherine A. O’Shea of Oak Lawn and Keith Pekau of Orland Park — publicly expressing their condolences.