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Minn. Man Released from Hospital After Deadly Chicago River Incident

Updated: 01/15/2014 1:42 PM
Created: 01/14/2014 8:00 PM KSTP.com
By: Leslie Dyste

The Minnesota man who survived after he and two others went into the icy Chicago River has been released from the hospital. He says he lost two good friends in the ordeal.

Twenty-six-year-old Ken Hoang of St. Paul fell into the river to try to grab his cell phone, which had fallen. He was pulled from the river and died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

According to a report by ABC 7, the medical examiner ruled Ken Hoang died of drowning and alcohol toxicity. 

Twenty-three-year-old Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang and his girlfriend, 21-year-old Lauren Li, both of Minnesota, went into the icy river to try to save Ken Hoang.

As of Tuesday night, Li remains missing and is presumed dead.

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang of Vadnais Heights released a statement Tuesday: "I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support at this very difficult time. Thank you to the people of Chicago, the first responders, and, especially, thanks to Luis Bertrand, who came to my aid and called 9-1-1. He is our hero... I lost two good friends. It’s not easy seeing your friend drift away and having one die in your arms. I have never felt so helpless in my life. This situation is very emotionally difficult, and out of respect for the families involved I would like to leave it at that. Thank you for everyone’s thoughts and prayers."

Chicago Police have suspended their search for Tuesday night for Li. Earlier Tuesday they used a police boat and long poles to scour the river for her. The search was stopped due to deteriorating conditions.

Ken Hoang was a former University of Minnesota student, while Li is a current U of M student, according to the university.

The University of Minnesota released the following statement: "The University of Minnesota extends our sympathy to the family of Ken Hoang, a former U student who died yesterday. We are also keeping the family of Lauren Li, a current U of M student who is currently missing, in our thoughts."

Li is a senior in the College of Biological Sciences and a member of the University's Honor Program. Hoang attended the university until 2010.

KSTP has learned the three friends were taking a trip to New Jersey and stopped in Chicago on the way.

Mutual friend Phu Cao, a Junior at University of Minnesota, said, "Lauren was just the brightest person. She was smart, she was sharp, she was quick."

Cao described Hoang as, "wiser than anyone of our time, and he took the time to learn about people."

Any U of M students who need someone to talk to about this incident are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.umn.edu for counseling services.


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