[Sarah Nader file photo – email@example.com]
Ryan went missing about 2 a.m. Sept. 4. He had a 2 a.m. curfew Monday. Ryan had been hanging out with his girlfriend, who had just asked him to homecoming. He left her house at 1:30 a.m., his family said, but Ryan never made it home.
Ryan was reported missing about 6 p.m. Sept. 4, and sheriff's deputies later found his 2003 Honda CRV pulled into a farm access point in the 12100 block of Charles Road. K-9 units found his body in a cornfield about 1,100 feet from his car.
An autopsy revealed no evidence of trauma or suspicious findings, and the cause of his death remained a mystery until Lurie Children’s Hospital returned test results in October.
Hanson’s family recently got back his computer and cellphone from authorities and started digging to find clues to reconstruct his final hours.
Ryan’s electronics revealed few clues. But inside his car, his family found a toy soldier, a monkey, an alligator and a My Little Pony figure – trinkets his family believes came from one of Ryan’s geocaching adventures.
Ryan was interested in the real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game. Participants use GPS devices to navigate specific coordinates to find a geocache – or container – hidden in that location.
Hanson’s family believe geocache coordinates led Ryan to the cornfield.
“He was an adventurer,” said his sister, Sam Hanson.
Ryan’s family has found comfort knowing their son and brother passed away on a calm, cloudless night doing what he enjoyed.
“It was a beautiful place,” Michael Hanson said.
“It was quick and painless, and he didn’t even know what happened,” said Rachel Hanson, Ryan’s sister.