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Body recovered from Chicago River thought to be missing student

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A body recovered on Wednesday from the Chicago River is believed to be that of a young woman who tried to help a friend after he fell into the icy waters while trying to retrieve a mobile phone.

Chicago police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office could not immediately confirm the identity, but the body was found in the area where Lauren Li, 21, a University of Minnesota honors student, went missing.

A former University of Minnesota student, Ken Hoang, 26, fell into the river near downtown Chicago just after midnight on Monday. Li and a second man, Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang, 23, a senior at the university, tried to help and also fell in, according to police.

Both men were pulled from the river by emergency personnel after a witness called for help. Ken Hoang was pronounced dead at a regional hospital. The Medical Examiner determined that he had drowned and that alcohol toxicity was a secondary cause of death.

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang, released from the hospital on Wednesday, issued a statement thanking rescuers.

"I lost two good friends," Hoang said. "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."

The Chicago River had been mostly frozen in the area where they fell, but parts of it were thawing on Monday.

University of Minnesota dean of students Danita Brown Young said in a statement that the university was providing counseling for students.

The University expressed sympathy to Li and Hoang's families. "We are relieved both families now have closure."

Li was a student in the College of Biological Sciences and a member of the university's Honor Program and active in the Chinese American Student Association and the Asian American Student Union.

Ken Hoang attended the university until 2010. Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang is a liberal arts senior, according to university spokesman Matt Hodson.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, Editing by Jon Herskovitz)

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