HYDE PARK — The search for a missing University of Chicago biochemistry major came to an end Wednesday when his body was found in Lake Michigan.
The body found in the lake off 39th Street was positively identified as Austin Hudson-LaPore, 20, who went missing June 12 after heading to the lakefront during a severe storm, officials said.
His family suspects he was headed to Promontory Point in Hyde Park to watch the tail end of a spring storm and didn’t intend to be gone long, which is why he left his phone and wallet but brought his keys.
“We are deeply saddened by the news today," Karen Warren Coleman, the university's vice president for campus life and student services, said in a statement.
"Although it is too early for authorities to determine a cause of death, evidence suggests that his fascination with weather led him to walk to the lakefront to watch the storm," she added.
Hudson-LaPore, of New Mexico, had just finished his last final exam that afternoon. He was scheduled to start a job at a U. of C. laboratory over the summer, a job his family said he was looking forward to because it would allow him to remain close to his Hyde Park friends over the summer.
His friends and family aided in the search for him, but at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, police got a call of a body spotted off the shore at 39th Street.
The body was found face up and Hudson-LaPore was pronounced dead at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office at 9:55 a.m.
Before the formal identification was made, K9 specialist Robert Larson, who was working with the family in their search efforts, said the family was nearly certain it was Hudson-LaPore.
The missing student's father, Gregg LaPore, is "pretty distraught right now,” said Larson, who spoke with Gregg LaPore Wednesday morning after the body was found. “He knows. You just have a gut instinct sometimes.”
Hudson-LaPore was last seen leaving his apartment in the 5300 block of South Kimbark Avenue.
On Tuesday, Larson and the LaPores, using a trained dog, tracked the student's scent to the lakefront along 53rd Street to one specific rock. There, the dog, named Captain Dexter, started barking and pulling toward the water, according to Larson.
“It was the strongest alert my dog’s ever given me,” Larson said. “He’s telling me the body’s out in the water; he wants to go out in the water.”
Larson said Gregg LaPore was involved in the whole 13-hour search Tuesday along the lakefront.
The father "was right there with us the whole time, he’s a very strong man,” Larson said. “Today, he broke down.”
Contributing: Emily Morris