Police say one of the men was trying to retrieve a cell phone when he fell into the icy river along Water Street near McClurg Court, close to the Chicago Riverwalk. The other two tried to save him.
"And my friend said he heard a yell [for] help, you know. At first I didn't believe it, so we still kept walking this way to keep sightseeing. As we got closer, he heard it again and I heard it again, too. And as we got closer, we yelled out, 'Where you at?'" witness Luis said. "I kept saying who was he with? And they said he had a friend and girlfriend, too, that went under the water, but he couldn't find her. We called the police."
Diver rescue teams pulled two men -- ages 23 and 26-- from the water and transported them to area hospitals. The 26-year-old man from St. Paul, Minnesota, died later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The 23-year-old man remains in critical but stable condition at St. Joseph Hospital.
The third person, a 21-year-old woman, is still missing. She is presumed dead. Authorities resumed their search for her at daybreak, calling it a recovery mission.
Her family was escorted to the site where the Chicago Police Department's Marine Unit resumed the search for her body at daybreak. The visibility is low underwater, the divers say, and they are having trouble reading their gauges.
"The lesson learned here is real simple. If your pets go onto ice, if you drop a cell phone or wallet, do not try and retrieve it," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.
The victims' names have not been released.