Friends Of Female Victim Speak OutBy Kate Raddatz

CHICAGO (WCCO/AP) — A police dive unit resumed its search Tuesday for a missing woman who fell into the Chicago River.

Authorities say 21-year-old Lauren Li and 26-year-old Ken Hoang of St. Paul fell while trying to help their friend, who’d also fallen into the river early Monday while retrieving a cellphone from the ice.

Rescuers were able to pull the two men from the icy water, but couldn’t find Li. The search resumed Tuesday morning, and divers searched the icy water for more than three hours before calling off the search for Li.

“She was one of the most exuberant young women I’ve ever known,” Li’s former teacher at Burnsville High School Jen Waller said.

An honors student in high school and college, Li was a senior in the College of Biological Sciences at the University. She was captain of her high school dance team.

“A lot of people are trying to focus on the wonderful dancer that she is in heaven now as an angel and remembering the wonderful woman that she was,” Waller said.

Waller says people who knew Li, aren’t surprised she likely died trying to save Hoang, putting her own life at risk to save another.

“We’re all just besides ourselves because Lauren had so much going for her and we just knew she would really be someone in this world,” she said.

Danita Brown Young, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at the University of Minnesota, released a statement in response to the incident.

“The University of Minnesota extends our sympathy to the family of Ken Hoang, a former U student who died yesterday,” Young said. “We are also keeping the family of Lauren Li, a current U of M student who is currently missing, in our thoughts.”

The 23-year-old man remained hospitalized. At last report, he was in stable condition.

Hoang died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Investigators say he fell into the water after jumping over a downtown fence to try to recover the cellphone he’d dropped.

A fund has been set up in memorial of Hoang. To donate, click here.

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Kate Raddatz

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