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Man dies after falling into freezing river trying to retrieve mobile phone

Detailed by the Chicago Tribune today, an attempt to retrieve a mobile phone turned deadly just after midnight when a 26-year-old man named Ken Hoang plunged into the below freezing Chicago River. According to police, Hoang dropped his mobile phone into the river and climbed over the security fence along the river in an attempt to retrieve it. After slipping into the frigid water, Hoang’s two companions, a 21-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man, also scaled the barrier in an attempt to save their friend from drowning. 

During the struggle to save Hoang, the 21-year-old woman slipped away into the water and the 23-year-old man attempted to call out for help to pedestrians walking along the Chicago Riverwalk. Jose Cuevas, a man walking home with his roommate after a late night movie, heard the cries for help.

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Cuevas said that the voice in the dark yelled out “Please hurry, my friend is dying. Please, I can’t hold on any longer. My girlfriend is in the water, and I don’t know where she’s at.” Cuevas quickly called 911 and rescue workers were dispatched to the scene. 

After rescue workers arrived minutes later, Hoang and the 23-year-old man were removed from the water and transported to nearby hospitals. Unfortunately, Hoang was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital early this morning. In addition, the 21-year-old woman is presumed dead at this point. Rescue workers have had no luck recovering the woman’s body from the Chicago River and called off the search at 6 p.m. today. Divers attempting to recover the woman’s body mentioned that visibility was abysmal within the river. The survivor of the incident, the 23-year-old man, is currently in stable condition at Presence St. Joseph Hospital and is expected to recover from his injuries.