Keisha Garnett, 30, whose nickname was "Alicia," was walking with friends on the south side of the Chicago River early Tuesday morning when she fell in near Lower Wacker Drive.
Keisha Garnett lived in Dallas, Texas and was apparently visiting Chicago with a group of friends.
Jeremy Garnett, the victim's brother, described Keisha as adventurous and full of life.
Keisha and her two friends were taking a long road trip from Dallas and had recently left New York City. At the last minute, Keisha decided to make a detour in Chicago, because she had never been.
''We came into Chicago and had dinner, and after dinner Keisha wanted to take a walk with my sister along Michigan avenue,'' said Joe McGrael, a friend of Garnett's.
McGrael says his sister Shannon and Keisha took a late night walk just before 4 a.m. Tuesday when Keisha slipped and fell into the frigid Chicago River.
Shannon McGrael tried to hang onto Keisha, but after several minutes, Keisha went under.
Her friends waved down a driver, who called for help. Chicago Fire Department dive crews pulled the woman out of the water around 4:15 a.m. She was pronounced dead at 5:20 a.m.
"They were walking down there by the water. I don't know who exactly fell in or jumped in," driver Hailey Barham said. "I was driving just down the street. The girl was hysterical. So, we called police for her right away, and they came right away, and they pulled her out."
Fire officials said Garnett was in the water for about 30 minutes. Dr. Rahul Khare, who works at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, did not treat the woman, but said that within five minutes of being in water as cold as the Chicago River, the body starts to shut down.
"As your temperature goes down, disorientation occurs you get very confused. It gets very hard for the people who are in the water to get out because they start becoming dizzy and then all the body organs kind of start to shut down," Dr. Rahul Khare, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said.
Back in Dallas, Keisha's older brother says he will always remember his sister as someone with a big heart.