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Woodstock teen who was found dead in cornfield died of cardiomyopathy

Ryan M. Hanson, 18, of Woodstock
Ryan M. Hanson, 18, of Woodstock (photo posted on Facebook by Tony Carr)

The missing Woodstock teenager who was found dead in a cornfield on September 4 died of cardiomyopathy, according to a new report released by the Northwest Herald.

Ryan M. Hanson, 18, of Woodstock, was found dead in a cornfield at 9:41 p.m. on September 4 by McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies after he was reported missing hours earlier.

The search by sheriff’s deputies began when Hanson was reported missing to them several hours earlier. Authorities found Hanson’s 2003 Honda CR-V alongside the road near a farm access point.

A canine search was initiated and Hanson’s body was found face down in a field over 1,000 feet from where his car was parked near the 12100 block of Charles Road in unincorporated Woodstock.

Hanson's body was found in a field over 1,000 feet from his car near the 12100 block of Charles Road in Woodstock.
Hanson’s body was found in a field over 1,000 feet from his car near the 12100 block of Charles Road in Woodstock.

An autopsy was conducted by the McHenry County Coroner’s Office on September 5; however, McHenry County Coroner Dr. Anne Majewski said at the time that there was “no evidence of trauma or any suspicious findings”. McHenry County Coroner Dr. Anne Majewski said that more studies needed to be done before a conclusion could be made.

According to a new report released on Sunday by the Northwest Herald, McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski and a cardiac pathologist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago studied Ryan Hanson’s heart tissue. It was determined the cause of death was cardiomyopathy, which is a weakening of heart tissue that often leads to heart failure.

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“These findings are seen more often in older individuals and are rare in younger people,” Steven M. White said in a cardiac pathology report, the Northwest Herald reported.

Hanson’s family told the Northwest Herald that he showed no signs of poor health before his death and always had yearly doctor checkups. Hanson’s family also said that inside his car they found a toy soldier, a monkey, an alligator and a My Little Pony figure, which were trinkets his family believes came from one of his geocaching adventures.

They said he was interested in a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game where participants use GPS devices to find specific coordinates in order to find a geocache, which is a container, hidden in that location. They believe that is what led him to the cornfield.

“His tissues constricted the electrical charge to his heart,” said Michael Hanson, his father, to the Northwest Herald. “It was like a light switch. When the charge deceased, Ryan passed away immediately.”

According to Hanson’s obituary from September, he was enrolled in the Pathways Engineering program at McHenry County College and the University of Illinois, tackling a double major in computer engineering and mathematics. He is survived by his parents, two sisters, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.

Read more in the report written by the Northwest Herald


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