Family Mourns Texas Woman Who Fell Into Chicago River

"She had a big heart," Keisha Elissa Garnett's brother says

By Rob Elgas
|  Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013  |  Updated 8:53 AM CDT
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Witness Hailey Barham called 911 and waited with Keisha Elissa Garnett's friend while police and rescuers arrived. Rob Elgas reports.

Witness Hailey Barham called 911 and waited with Keisha Elissa Garnett's friend while police and rescuers arrived. Rob Elgas reports.

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Crews Pull Woman From Chicago River

A woman in her 30s was transported in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after being pulled from the icy water early Tuesday morning.
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As friends and family mourn the death of a 30-year-old Texas woman, authorities are piecing together how she fell into the Chicago River.

Keisha Elissa Garnett was traveling with work friends from Dallas to New York, and on the way back to North Texas, they stopped in Chicago to rest.

During a late-night walk on Tuesday, police said Garnett somehow fell into the icy waters of the river.

Witness Hailey Barham called 911 and waited with Garnett's friend while police and rescuers arrived.

Barham said Garnett was conscious and in the grasp of her friend, who was leaning over the icy water, trying to save her.

"She believes that she slipped into the water," Barham said of the friend.

After holding her hands for 15 minutes and screaming for help, Garnett's friend finally let go in search of police. "It just got to the point where she had to run and go and get help," Barham said.

Firemen searched for Garnett under thick sheets of ice, but by the time they pulled her out, it was too late. Doctors said the near-freezing temperatures could have shocked her body.

Garnett died early Tuesday morning, shortly after being rescued.

Jeremy Garnett could barely hold back tears after he found out his younger sister had died.

"Only sister I got," he said. "She's my everything, man. She's my baby."

The Garnett family said they will remember her as a loving daughter and a caring sister.

"She had a big heart," Jeremy Garnett said.

Her family set up a fund to help with burial costs.

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