Chicago River Fall Survivor: I've Never Felt so Helpless

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang is recuperating at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital-Chicago, and released a statement Tuesday thanking everyone for their "prayers and support"

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014  |  Updated 9:57 AM EDT
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Two people die, one hospitalized after falling into Chicago River trying to retrieve cell phone. Natalie Martinez reports.

Two people die, one hospitalized after falling into Chicago River trying to retrieve cell phone. Natalie Martinez reports.

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A man who tried to save a friend who fell into the Chicago River while trying to retrieve a cell phone Monday, is speaking out about the ordeal that killed two of his friends.

Ken Hoang, 26, from St. Paul, Minn., was swept away after climbing over the fence on the 400 block of East Water Street shortly after midnight.

Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang and a 21-year-old woman fell into the water while trying to help Hoang. The woman's body has not been recovered and recovery efforts were suspended Tuesday afternoon due to inclement weather conditions.

Quoc-Viet is recuperating at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital-Chicago, and released a statement Tuesday thanking everyone for their "prayers and support," particularly Luis Bertrand, who came to his aid and called 911.

“I lost two good friends,” Hoang said in the written statement. “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.”

Hoang is scheduled to be released from the hospital on Wednesday.

An autopsy conducted Tuesday found Ken Hoang drowned, and listed alcohol toxicity as a secondary factor, the medical examiner’s office said. His death was ruled an accident.

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