Brother of St. Paul drowning victim speaks on family's loss

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The brother of Chicago drowning victim Ken Hoang spoke with Kare11 Tuesday about the situation surrounding his sibling's death.

The Hoang family lives in St. Paul.

David Hoang, 23, said that Ken cared about the people around him. That was evidenced by his devotion to his parents, brothers and sister, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1996.

David has just completed degrees in genetics and physiology at the University of Minnesota. His brother, who was 26-years-old, was a student at the U of M until 2010. He had been working at Wells Fargo in Bloomington for 18 months and planning to return to the U of M to complete a degree in economics, according to David.

"He was working really hard and trying to help out our family as well," explained David Hoang. "I am just recently out of school, still looking for a job and my parents, they do not work. So, a lot of the income he was making, he was contributing to us and kind of sustaining the family."

David said a cousin in Australia organized a fund to assist the Hoang family in the wake of Ken's death.

David offered a possible explanation for Ken's fatal determination to retrieve the cell phone he dropped into the Chicago River. He said his brother had lost his cell phone several times.

"He was not a materialistic person," said David. "The cell phone is a cell phone. It is replaceable, but I think it was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. He had issues with keeping his cell phone, so, he felt like maybe if he lost it again, we would give him crap for it again and perhaps that was the reason for him to be a little more willing to go after it."

David described his brother as a genuine, funny person, who could be a "bit quirky and almost sarcastic." David Hoang said he was friends with the other two people involved in the Chicago River incident. Lauren Li, 21, is still missing, while Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang, Ken's cousin, survived and is being treated in a Chicago hospital.

About Li, David said, "She is just so exuberant, just so vibrant. There is just so much energy and life about her. She just always has a smile on her face and was just very lively. It is so difficult to think that she is gone.

"The whole reason they were going on the road trip was to visit a friend in New Jersey and I believe that is why they were going because he had flown out there and they felt that maybe he could use some company. So, just to ward off the loneliness, they felt they should just give him a visit."


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