Cousin of drowning victim suffers 'great loss'

CHICAGO - Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang tried to help his cousin, Ken Hoang, and a close friend, Lauren Li, after Ken dropped his cell phone into the Chicago River and went in after it.

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang was the only person to survive after jumping into to the River. He is recovering in a Chicago hospital and in a news release on Tuesday said that he is suffering a great loss.

"I lost two good friends," he 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. This situation is very emotionally difficult and out of respect for the families involved I would like to leave it at that. Thank you for everyone's thoughts and prayers."

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang said that he would like to extend his thanks to everyone at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital.

"Thank you to the people of Chicago, the first responders, and, especially, thanks to Luis Bertrand, who came to my aid and called 911. He is our hero."

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang is scheduled to be released from the hospital on Wednesday.

Lauren Li was a senior and honor student at the U of M College of Biological Sciences according to Danita Brown Young, Dean of Students at the university. She is presumed dead. The search for her body was called off on Tuesday due to snowy conditions in Chicago.

Ken Hoang lived in St. Paul. His brother spoke with Kare11 on Tuesday about the situation surrounding his sibling's death.

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


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