ST. JOHN | Those who knew and loved Levi C. Evans II on Thursday remembered the 17-year old Lake Central High School marching band drummer as a talented musician, a caring person with an infectious smile and a wonderful son who touched many lives.
Evans, who would have entered his sophomore year at the high school next week, was found dead about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the far southeast corner of the school property by three young residents of nearby Ventura Estates.
The tall, slender teen, who turned 17 on June 22, was last seen at 4:26 p.m. at the Taco Bell restaurant on U.S. 41, steps from the Lake Central property. He visited the restaurant frequently during dinner breaks from marching band practice at the Freshman Center.
Evans was found in a field behind the restaurant that is bordered by black silk construction fencing adjacent to the new NIPSCO electrical substation. However, he wasn’t in the newly activated substation, which has a 7-foot-high fence, St. John Police Chief Fred Frego said.
The field’s construction fencing, which resembles snow fencing, may have obscured the boy’s body, Lake Central Superintendent Larry Veracco said.
Fellow marching band members repeatedly called Evans’ cellphone and texted him when he failed to return after the dinner break, said Adam Pieters, who taught Evans at Hal Clark Middle School in St. John and at Lake Central and also coached Evans’ eighth-grade football team at Clark.
“He is a talented athlete. I asked him why he didn’t go out for athletics (in high school). He said, ‘I don’t want to lose my focus on my passion, music,'" Pieters said.
Authorities said they are trying to determine what happened between the time Evans left the restaurant and was discovered. An autopsy was being performed Thursday afternoon.
Frego said the 911 call came in at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday, and emergency crews responded.
“We found a young male laying on the ground facedown. We checked for vital signs and found him unresponsive,” Frego said. “There were no signs of foul play. He looked like a healthy young man.”
Evans was identified by Chris Harmon, Lake Central band director.
A St. John police officer and Lake Central Assistant Superintendent Al Gandolfi went to Evans’ home to notify his mother, Karen Evans, of her son’s death.
“I was out walking the dogs when the policeman and assistant superintendent saw me outside,” Karen Evans said, looking across her living room, reliving the memory.
“He is one of the joys of my life,” she said as she comforted the family’s small dogs, Princess and Mason. “I am so blessed that God chose me to be his mother.”
Wracked by sobs, Karen Evans said her Christian faith will help her stay strong for her daughter, Levisa Evans, a 2012 graduate of Lake Central and talented track and field star who is enrolled at Indiana State University.
“I told her to run for Levi, to dedicate every race to him,” she said.
Tears flowed Thursday night during a candlelight vigil for Levi Evans at Lake Central organized by his friend, Nathan Zajac and band members.
“I believe there are angels roaming the Earth, and I truly believe Levi was one of them,” Zajac said.
Members of the marching band’s drum line saluted their friend with a 20-minute performance before the vigil started.
Evans’ set of tenor drums stood at the end of the line topped with a bouquet of flowers.
Funeral services for Evans are pending.