Husband of suburban native shot in Mexico, about her final night: 'She was so happy'
In the days leading up to her death, Tatiana Mirutenko "was having the time of her life," her husband, James Hoover, told the hundreds who packed Bloomingdale's St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church Saturday to pay their respects.
"She was so happy. During our time in Mexico City, we ate at two of the best restaurants in the world -- Quintonil and Pujol," he said.
He described in painstaking detail nearly every meal, from the "authentic Mexican breakfasts" to the handmade tortillas and down to the specific cuts of meat and fish they shared.
The Friday night of July 6 and the following Saturday were filled with amazing food, drinks and dancing with Hoover and friends.
"She was smiling all night," he said. "It was beautiful."
The group was leaving a restaurant in what he described as the "upscale" Mexico City neighborhood of Lomas de Chapultepec when the 27-year-old Hawthorn Woods native was struck and killed instantly by a stray bullet fired by gunmen on a passing motorcycle.
"I need to tell you all, she was never scared. She never suffered," he said. "It happened so suddenly."
The couple was visiting Mexico City on an anniversary trip and a delayed honeymoon. Mexico was a common vacation destination for the Mirutenko family and a place Tatiana loved.
Hoover shared how Tatiana, a foodie with a taste for fine restaurants, took in every detail of the meals they ate. At one restaurant, the chef was so flattered with the interest she took in his work that he invited the pair to the kitchen to teach them how to make their own corn tortillas.
"She was always striking up conversations with strangers or people sitting next to her," Hoover said. "That was just her curious nature."
It was also one of his favorite things about his wife.
"She taught me to be more spontaneous and outgoing," he said, "which is something I will carry on."
Growing up, Tatiana attended Montessori School of Lake Forest, where she made friends and established an early enjoyment of art and athletics. She gravitated toward volleyball, which she played both in high school and at the Division I collegiate level at Clemson University in South Carolina.
For the past 2½ years, her father said Tatiana lived in San Francisco and worked at Nektar Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company based there. Tatiana was a role model to her younger sister, Roma, who described her as a companion for adventures and explorations, trying new restaurants and practicing volleyball.
"Her mother, Natalie Mirutenko, said Tatiana was an inspiration who lived with "passion and fire in her heart."
Immediately after Saturday's nearly 90-minute service, Tatiana Mirutenko was buried in the cemetery on the church grounds.
• Daily Herald staff writer Marie Wilson contributed to this report.