U of M Student's Body Pulled from Chicago River

Updated: 01/16/2014 1:18 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

Lauren Li
Lauren Li

Authorities recovered the body Wednesday of the Minnesota woman who was missing after she went into the Chicago River early Monday.

Police say, the body of 21-year-old Lauren Li was recovered by the Chicago Police Marine Unit shortly before 2 p.m.

Li went into the river with her boyfriend, 23-year-old Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang of Vadnais Heights. They went into the river to rescue Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang's cousin, 26-year-old Ken Hoang of St. Paul, who fell into the river while trying to grab his cell phone that had fallen.

Ken Hoang 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.

Li was missing and presumed dead following the incident, until her body was found Wednesday.

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang was released from the hospital Wednesday. He says he lost two good friends in the ordeal.

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang 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."

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

Li was 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.