PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- The friends of two University of Minnesota students who died in the icy Chicago River this week gathered to remember their friends in Plymouth Thursday night.
Twenty-six-year-old Ken Hoang of St. Paul died after falling into the river early Monday morning. Chicago police say he was trying to retrieve his dropped his phone when he slipped on the ice into the water. Twenty-one-year-old Lauren Li of Burnsville died after she attempted to help her friend.
On Thursday night, friends gathered at the Sakana Hibachi restaurant in Plymouth to toast and honor their friends.
"It's one way to grieve. Everybody grieves in a different way," said Michael Huynh about the gathering.
"Coming together shows our bond together, and he really did bring everybody together and look, here we are now together," Huynh continued.
"I think right now it's still pretty shocking. He's going to come through this door," said Tho Nguyen about her hope that Hoang would suddenly join the group.
"I just can't believe he's gone. And I wish I could hang out with him just one more time," said Chris Phetprasith.
The friends said Hoang and Li were both energetic people with warm hearts and smiles. Hoang worked at a Bloomington bank and helped support his family. Li was an honors student at the University of Minnesota and hoped to attend medical school.
"We don't know how else to say thank you and it was too soon for them to go," said Dan Tran.
"They're looking down at us. They're still in our hearts. They're still in our memories," added Huynh.
The sole survivor of the Chicago tragedy is back at home recovering, his friends say, from the physical trauma and a broken heart. For more information on a fund set up for the victims' families, just go to: http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/ken-hoang-memorial-fund-/125794