July 12, 2024

Newton native drowns in Chicago accident

Klingensmith, 23, dies after being pulled from Lake Michigan

A 23-year-old Newton native lost his life Friday when he drowned at a pier along Lake Michigan in northern Chicago and his family and friends are dealing with the shock and sadness of his loss.

Ryan Klingensmith died Friday evening after he was pulled from Montrose Harbor in the South Shore area of Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Newton native and current eastern Iowa resident was with friends at the harbor and fell from a boat into the water just before 5:30 p.m., according to Chicago Police and the medical examiner’s office.

It’s not clear exactly how long Klingensmith was under water, but it appears to have been about 30 minutes. A lifeguard got Klingensmith out of the water but after he was taken to a local hospital, he was pronounced dead at 6:06 p.m., authorities said.

Wallace Family Funeral Home of Newton is handling service arrangements, which can be found here: bit.ly/28LP5oy

Brandon Cook said Monday he has many positive memories of Klingensmith, who was his second cousin.

“Ryan treated everyone the same,” Cook said. “He was never judgmental toward anyone, and he was a great son, sibling and cousin to his family.”

Klingensmith, a 2010 Newton High School graduate, has many relatives in the Newton area, including his parents, Denny and Lori; his sister, Kelly, who just graduated from Newton High School in May, and his brother, Cory.

“He was just here (in Newton) recently for Kelly’s graduation party, so many of us had just seen him this month,” Cook said. “For me, that makes it easier — knowing I was able to share a moment with him.”

The athletic Klingensmith played football for the Newton Cardinals. The program lost senior-to-be Trenton Brady to a car accident less than two weeks ago.

Brandon Huggins, a 2010 classmate and teammate of Klingensmith, said football teams are tight-knit groups that benefit from unselfishness, and Klingensmith regularly showed his caring, unselfish nature.

“Ryan’s impact was felt in how caring he was,” Huggins said. “He would go out of his way to help people.”

Cook said Klingensmith had secured a job in a Chicago suburb, and was preparing to relocate from the Iowa City area. He had attended the University of Iowa and earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance in 2014, and was preparing to move to Chicago to be closer to his longtime girlfriend and Chicago native, Kelly Pottle.

A lifelong Iowa Hawkeye supporter and an avid fan of the Carolina Panthers, Klingensmith also loved the Chicago White Sox. That made for some interesting dates and photographs with Pottle, a Cubs fan.

“They had a lot of fun with that aspect,” Cook said.

Klingensmith came back to Newton frequently — one of many family members supporting his father, Denny, as he battled health issues — and was at the NHS graduation ceremony in May leading up to Friday’s tragic accident.

The results of an autopsy Saturday indicated he drowned, and his death was ruled an accident, the medical examiner’s office said.

A GoFundMe page for the Klingensmith family has been set up here: bit.ly/28LFKyo

Cook said he was inspired by the way Klingensmith’s quality of life seemed to improve in what turned out to be the final years of his short life.

“He had also lost weight and gotten in better shape within the past year or so,” Cook said. “He was really happy with the way he looked and felt.”

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com