Body of a second Twin Citian is pulled from Chicago River

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 15, 2014 - 7:59 PM

The hospitalized St. Paul man who survived an icy plunge into the Chicago River says his cousin died in his arms while trying to save him from drowning.


A search crew of the Chicago Police Department’s marine unit returns to the marine safety station in Chicago after their search for 21-year-old Lauren Li. Here body was pulled from the river on Wednesday.

Photo: Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

A University of Minnesota student who survived an icy plunge into the Chicago River says he “never felt so helpless” as when he was in the water and holding his dying cousin while watching a friend float away to her death.

Ken Hoang, 26, of St. Paul, died from drowning and was intoxicated when he fell into the water early Monday while trying to retrieve his cellphone, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled Tuesday.

Another U student, Lauren Li, 21, of Burnsville, drifted away in the downtown Chicago River. Her body was found Wednesday in the river, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing a police marine unit official.

Quoc Viet Phan Hoang, 23, of Vadnais Heights, was released from Presence St. Joseph Hospital on Wednesday, a hospital official said.

The three were heading to New Jersey from the Twin Cities and stopped for a brief side trip to Chicago. Ken Hoang dropped his cellphone onto the icy river while taking photos about 12:05 a.m. Monday, scaled a fence and went through the ice as he tried to retrieve it. That’s when his cousin and Li went in after him.

“I lost two good friends,” Quoc Hoang, a liberal arts student at the U, said in his statement. “It’s not easy seeing your friends drift away and having one die in your arms. I have never felt so helpless in my life. Thank you for everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”

Li, who graduated from Burnsville High School, was a senior in the College of Biological Sciences and an honors student. Ken Hoang, a graduate of St. Paul Como High School, attended the U until 2010.


Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

  • related content

  • Jan. 14: U student drowns trying to retrieve phone

    Tuesday January 14, 2014

    Ken Hoang, 26, of St. Paul died at Northwestern Hospital and a 21-year-old Minnesota woman is presumed dead. A 23-year-old man, also from Minnesota, was pulled from the water...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters