The Chicago River was the site of a bizarre tragedy early Monday morning when a 26-year-old man and his 21-year-old girlfriend died after the man dropped his cell phone into the ice-encrusted waters — then tried to save it.
A third man also dropped into the frigid river and is now listed in stable condition at Presence St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, CBS Chicago reported..
The woman and the third man were attempting to save their friend, who had fallen into the freezing river. But the original 26-year-old, reported to hail from St. Paul, Minnesota, was trying to save nothing but his mobile phone.
The seemingly pointless accident took place shortly after midnight near the Chicago Riverwalk at Water Street, near McClurg Court. The trio, whose names have not yet been made public, were reportedly sightseeing and enjoying a chilly night in the Windy City when the man somehow lost hold of his cell phone and it fell.
Whether the phone fell into the water or landed on ledge at the riverside — or perhaps on the floating ice that covered the Chicago River — was not clear.
The 26-year-old man climbed over a railing to get closer to the river where he apparently hoped he could reach his lost phone. While it seems doubtful that he deliberately jumped into the water, he was at the point where one wrong move would put him into the Chicago River.
And that is exactly what happened. His two companions then tried to save him, also either falling or jumping into the ice-cold Chicago River water.
The two men were pulled from the river by rescuers after witnesses heard cries for help and immediately called 911. The 26-year-old died later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The body of the 21-year-old woman has not been recovered, KLS TV reports. Rescuers presumed her to be dead as they resumed their efforts in daylight Monday.
"It's a recovery, not a rescue," said Chicago Police Officer Mike Sullivan, to the news agency Reuters.
A witness giving his name only as Luis described discovering the desperate scene.
"We were walking to the fountain this way, and my friend said he heard a yell of help," the witness told the local CBS station. "As we got closer, we heard it again, and I heard it again too, and as we got closer, we yelled out, 'Where you at?'"
Luis was able to communicate with the man in the water.
"He told me he had a friend that he was holding on to, and that there was a girlfriend too that fell in the water, that was under the water, but he couldn't find her," the witness who dialed 911 recounted.