The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Chicago River Tragedy: 1 Dead, 1 Missing

A recent Chicago River tragedy involving three friends and a dropped cell phone is a grim reminder to people in the area to never step onto the icy river. Sadly, for the victims in this tragedy, that realization came too little too late.

Could the city face liability for the death?

Chicago River Tragedy

Authorities said Ken Hoang, 26, from St. Paul, Minn., fell into the water after he climbed over a fence and stepped down to find a phone he'd dropped on the ice. His two friends, a 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman, stepped onto the icy river to try to help him but fell in as well, reports the Chicago Tribune.

After the three fell in, a passerby called 911. Rescue workers extricated the two men from the icy water. Tragically, Hoang was later pronounced dead. The 23-year-old man is in stable condition, while the 21-year-old is still missing, but presumed dead.

City Potentially Liable?

It may be difficult for the victims' families to peg liability on the city for this tragedy, considering the three hopped a fence before tragically plunging into the icy water.

Nevertheless, the city may be staring down potential wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits as more accidents happen in the river. Just last month an eerily similar incident took place in nearly the same spot when a woman visiting from Texas died after she accidentally slipped into the river near the Michigan Avenue bridge, reports the Tribune.

Given the history of deadly accidents, the victims could claim that the city should have done a better job with giving warnings and putting up barriers. In particular, the victims could argue that the city failed to properly warn tourists and other passersby unfamiliar with wintry weather about the dangers of stepping onto ice. They could also present a negligence argument based on the city's failure to put up additional fences and barriers near the ice.

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