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U. of C. student remembered for fascination with weather

The family AustHudson-LaPore comforts one another Thursday news conference discussing his death. From left: Dr. Laurie HudsHudson-LaPore's mother hugs his

The family of Austin Hudson-LaPore comforts one another Thursday at a news conference discussing his death. From left: Dr. Laurie Hudson, Hudson-LaPore's mother, hugs his aunt Leigh LaPore Harris and his sister Aidan while his father Greg LaPore talks with the media. | Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 20, 2013 9:29PM

Austin Hudson-LaPore loved nature so much he sometimes walked downtown from Hyde Park, then hopped on a bus back to rest his weary legs.

On June 12, it was his fascination with thunderstorms that led to his untimely death, his aunt Leigh LaPore Harris said outside University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel Thursday morning. The 20-year-old biochemistry student’s body was found Wednesday morning in Lake Michigan, a week after he was reported missing.

“Austin loved watching the weather. A stormy night on the lakefront and some free time after the end of his finals would be too hard to resist,” LaPore Harris said. “It looks like he just went a little too far on the rocks and slipped and was caught up in the waves.”

Still, she said the family is taking comfort that he left them “doing the things he loved, pursuing studies, becoming a part of the universal life, checking out sports scores and looking up to the sky with a feeling of wonder of the power of nature.”

The New Mexico native came to the university, where he found people just like him, his mother, Dr. Laurie Hudson said. He learned how to cook as a student, often making a giant vat of her homemade chili for his friends.

She said his intellect was discovered at a young age. She introduced him to Scrabble at age 6: “By the time he was 10, he would be winning.”

“Austin lived life intensely with warmth, humor, generosity, passion and intellect,” she said.

Hudson-LaPore was a social student with many friends. He loved baseball and often attended White Sox games, his friend Evan Kuehn said.

“Even after moving out of our dorm, he would show up for board game night, beating us all in trivia,” Kuehn said.

Hudson-LaPore’s death was ruled as an accident by drowning, according to officials with the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The University of Chicago plans to hold a memorial for Hudson-LaPore but has not yet set a date. Counseling services are being offered to Hudson-LaPore’s fellow friends and students.

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