Chicago River victims: Ken Hoang, Lauren Li - KMSP-TV

Search for 3rd Chicago River victim Lauren Li suspended

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Lauren Li and Ken Hoang (photos used with expressed permission) Lauren Li and Ken Hoang (photos used with expressed permission)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The Cook County medical examiner is expected to officially release the names of the Chicago River victims on Tuesday, but a memorial page on Facebook identified one victim as 26-year-old Ken Hoang of St. Paul, Minn.

According to witnesses, Hoang climbed over a railing on the 400 block of East Water Street after dropping his cell phone onto the frozen Chicago River just after midnight Monday morning. He was pulled from the icy water by rescuers, but was pronounced dead at the scene.

FIRST REPORT: Man dead, woman missing after fall into icy Chicago River

Ken Hoang (photo used with expressed permission)


Chicago Fire Department drivers struggled to locate 21-year-old Lauren Li, who jumped into the river to help. Li has not been recovered and is presumed drowned.  A search resumed Tuesday morning.

"We continued efforts for over an hour, rotating divers," Chicago Fire Chief Linda Parson said. "Searches for the final victim were unsuccessful."

Lauren Li at Millenium Park in Chicago the Sunday before the tragedy
(photo used with expressed permission)

Li is a senior at the University of Minnesota who is originally from Burnsville, and her former teacher said although she is grieving, she was not surprised to learn Li risked her life to save a friend.

"It wouldn't surprise me at all -- not to let her friend flounder," Jen Waller, an English teacher at Burnsville High School, told Fox 9 News. "She would help anybody -- anybody, even if not a friend. I would bet she would go in for a complete stranger."

Recovery efforts were suspended on Tuesday afternoon due to weather.


Another man, 23-year-old Viet Phan Hoang -- no relation to Ken, remained in fair condition at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital.

Chicago Police Marine Unit diver on the ice (WFLD / FOX 32)

Fox 9 News spoke with Ninh Hoang, who said his son is recovering physically; however, they are concerned for his emotional health.

"His friend died in his arms," Ninh Hoang said.


"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.

Lauren is a senior in our College of Biological Sciences and a member of the University's Honor Program. Ken attended the U until 2010.

We are working closely with Boynton Health Service and University Counseling & Consulting Services to provide counseling, mental health and other support to Ken and Lauren's friends and fellow students at the U during this difficult time. Anyone in need of someone to talk to is encouraged to visit for more information or go to University Counseling and Consulting Services in 340 Appleby Hall between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to talk to a counselor."

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