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Texas woman dies after falling into Chicago River

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Updated: December 17, 2013 1:57PM

A Texas woman died early Tuesday after falling into the frigid Chicago River near Michigan Avenue.

A witness told authorities she saw a woman fall into the Chicago River about 3:40 a.m. in the 300 block of North Michigan, police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said, citing preliminary information.

The 30-year-old woman, identified as Alicia Garnett of Houston, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5:20 a.m., according to police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Hailey Barham, who is visiting from Indianapolis, said she was driving when she saw a “hysterical” woman on Michigan near the Wacker Drive intersection, begging a cab driver to call police.

“The cab driver didn’t call police. He just drove off,” she said, later identifying the woman on the street as a friend of the person in the water. “I’m the one that called 911.”

The woman who fell into the water was with another female and a male, Barham, 28, said. She added that the trio was staying at the Omni Hotel, 676 N. Michigan Ave., and were visiting from Houston.

“I was in the squad car talking to police with her friend,” Barham said. “[Her friend] was really shaken up. She was scared.”

The woman was pulled out of the river, which had “icy water conditions,” around 4 a.m., Deputy District Fire Chief Ron Dornekez said at the scene. She was in the water for more than 15 minutes.

“One person from the fire department scuba team pulled her out,” he said. “It was a typical dive and pull.”

Chicago Police are investigating.

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