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Presumed drowned; Rescuers suspend search for missing U of M student

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The search of the Chicago River for a missing University of Minnesota student has been called off for the day.

The Chicago Tribune reports 21-year-old Lauren Li is presumed dead.

KARE 11 reports the search was suspended Tuesday afternoon due to snow and weather conditions in the area.

26-year-old Ken Hoang of St. Paul died after falling into the river. He and another man were pulled from the river shortly after midnight Monday, near River Esplande Park. The second man remains in stable condition at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital.

According to his family, Hoang and his friends had left St. Paul Sunday for a road trip to New Jersey, with a stop in Chicago.

The survivor told police Hoang had been taking photos of the river just after midnight Monday, when his phone fell onto a chunk of ice. Hoang went to retrieve his phone, but he fell into the water. His friends – a 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman – stepped on to the ice to help him, but they slipped in too.

“They told us they didn’t know the details, but that Ken had passed and Lauren was still missing,” said Phong Do, a U student who knew Li. “There was shock and stunned silence.”

Tuesday the news was circulating on Facebook, including a link to a memorial fund, and this remembrance from a friend:

"I'll never understand why good people are always taken too soon. But I do know that heaven has taken in 2 beautiful angels and we have been really blessed to have had them here on earth and in our lives."

The man who called 911, Jose Cuevas, said he was walking along the river when he heard screams early Monday morning.

“Help, help, help!,'' a male voice said, according to Cuevas. "‘I'm in the river! It's me and my friend — it's the three of us.'''

Rescuers were able to get the two men from the water, but they were not able to find Li, according to WCCO. The search for her resumed Tuesday morning, but after more than three hours of searching divers suspended the search for her.

Li was a senior honor student in the College of Biological Science at the University of Minnesota.

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