Body found in Chicago River presumed to be that of missing student

University senior Lauren Li has been missing since early Monday.

Emma Nelson

A body found in the Chicago River Wednesday afternoon is apparently that of University of Minnesota senior Lauren Li, who fell in the river trying to rescue a friend early Monday.

Li was visiting Chicago with friends including Ken Hoang, 26, who died Monday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He passed a fence to reach the river, and fell in trying to retrieve his cell phone after dropping it on the ice.

Li and 23-year-old University senior Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang fell in the river trying to rescue Ken Hoang. Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang was hospitalized and released Wednesday.

The search for Li was temporarily called off Tuesday due to inclement weather. According to Chicago Police Officer Mike Sullivan, the search was treated as a recovery rather than a rescue.

Danita Brown Young, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students, identified Hoang and Li in an email statement Tuesday. According to the statement, Li was a student in the College of Biological Sciences and a member of the University Honors Program, and Hoang attended the University until 2010.

In another statement Wednesday, Brown Young expressed sympathy for the victims’ families.

“We are relieved both families now have closure,” she said.

Support for family and friends

Following news of the incident, those close to Hoang and Li have come together to share stories and offer support.

The Ken Hoang Memorial Fund, created on the website YouCaring.com, raised more than $11,000 for Hoang’s family as of Thursday afternoon. A post on behalf of the family thanked supporters.

“The support and kind words have been overwhelming,” the post said.

Friends described Li, who studied microbiology, as a charismatic woman with a distinct laugh.

“The minute you met her, you felt like you were really good friends with her,” said nutrition junior Hailey Hassel, who shared an apartment with Li during the 2012-13 school year.

Nursing junior Haley Akermark said Li traveled to Chicago with a group of people, not just the two men who fell into the river. Akermark also lived with Li and Hassel after the three became friends as freshmen.

Akerman said many people have reached out to her and Hassel to console them and tell stories about Li.

“She was just the type of person that would walk into a room and light it up,” Akerman said.

CBS Dean Robert Elde sent a letter about Li’s death to the college’s students, faculty and staff Thursday.

“She had a very bright future that was cut far too short,” he said in the letter. “It’s a great loss for the CBS community.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.