A University of Minnesota student who survived after he and two others fell into the icy Chicago River said Wednesday that he lost two good friends in the tragedy that started with a dropped cellphone.
Police have said the three friends ended up in the icy river earlier this week after Ken Hoang jumped over a fence in downtown Chicago to retrieve a cellphone he’d dropped in the water. Lauren Li and Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang tried to help, but fell in after their friend.
Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang, 23, was rescued and treated at Presence St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. Hospital officials say he was released Wednesday.
Hoang, a senior from Vadnais Heights, issued a statement through the hospital Wednesday that said one of his friends died in his arms and he saw the other drift away. Hoang said he’s never felt so helpless.
Ken Hoang, 26, of St. Paul, a former University of Minnesota student, was pronounced dead after he was pulled from the river Monday. Chicago police divers pulled another body from the river on Wednesday. The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified the person pulled from the river as Li, 21, of Burnsville.
The University of Minnesota said Li was a senior in the College of Biological Sciences.
In a statement, the university extended its sympathies to the families of both victims.
“We are relieved both families now have closure,” the university said. The school said it is providing counseling and other support to friends and fellow students of the victims.