A young man who recently graduated near the top of his class at Woodstock North High School is being mourned by friends and family as authorities investigate his death.
Ryan Hanson was an Eagle Scout, a talented student and a multi-sport athlete for the Thunder who would have turned 19 next month. His family reported him missing the evening of Sept. 4 when he hadn’t returned home as expected. His car was found parked in a farm access road in the 12000 block of Charles Road in rural Woodstock, and, later that night, a police canine search led to the discovery of his body in a farm field about 1,100 feet from his car.
The preliminary investigation by the McHenry County Coroner’s Office found no signs of trauma, and the death is still under investigation.
“His heart stopped, and he passed before he even hit the ground,” said his father, Michael Hanson.
Family members said Ryan was an adventurous night-owl who liked geocaching, an activity where participants hide and search for caches at specific coordinates. They think he might have been out late geocaching when he suffered a medical emergency.
“He’d been getting more and more into it,” said his sister Rachel Hanson. “Nothing else makes sense.”
People who knew Ryan remembered him as kind, bright and promising. A 2017 graduate of WNHS who finished eighth in his class, he had recently enrolled in the Engineering Pathways program at McHenry County College and was planning to attend the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ryan wanted to be a computer engineer.
“He could have done a lot of good,” said his sister Sam Hanson. “He was a great person.”
While in high school, he was a member of the math team and Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering, and he was a self-taught musician who enjoyed playing the guitar, his family said. He represented WNHS on the track, tennis and cross-country teams.
“Ryan was full of life, and everyone loved him,” said Cas Creighton, one of his high school cross-country coaches. “He brought so much to our team other than his athleticism. He was free-spirited and never afraid to be himself. My own boys would follow him around and admired his character. I couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated and coachable kid.”
His family said Ryan was naturally witty, something he managed to inject into every part of his life. Ryan’s YouTube channel, Bobalon711, includes personal videos ranging from silly teenage antics to high-level math instruction, all delivered with a sense of humor.
“He was never bored. He would always find something interesting to do,” said his mother, Lori Hanson. She added her family is grateful for the outpouring of support they’ve received in the wake of Ryan’s death.
“People hear about Ryan, and they all want to help,” she said.