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Funeral Saturday for Tatiana Mirutenko, killed on belated honeymoon in Mexico

For Tatiana Mirutenko, the Mexico City trip was a delayed honeymoon, “a dream come true.” says James Hoover, her husband of one year. Killed there by a stray bullet, her wake is Friday in Chicago and funeral Saturday in Bloomingdale. | Instagram

For Tatiana Mirutenko and her husband James Hoover, the trip to Mexico City with friends would be a vacation and a celebration.

They’d mark their one-year wedding anniversary and get the honeymoon they had put off taking when they got married.

“It was a dream come true for her,” Hoover said. “She was so happy. During our time in Mexico City, we ate at two of the best restaurants in the world — Quintonil and Pujol.”

As they were leaving a restaurant in the upscale Mexico City neighborhood of Lomas de Chapultepec on Saturday, two men on a motorcycle shot at and wounded a bouncer, according to the police, and Ms. Mirutenko was killed by a stray bullet.

Mexico City is among several popular tourist destinations in Mexico that the State Department has warned American travelers to “exercise increased caution due to crime.” In 2017, more than 29,000 people were killed across Mexico. That was up 27 percent over the year before and the most since comparable records began being kept in 1997 — higher even than in 2011, the peak year of Mexico’s drug war.

Police in Mexico City said they were reviewing security footage in hopes of identifying and finding the gunmen.

Natalie Mirutenko told a San Francisco TV station that her daughter had told her from Mexico City “how safe it was” there.

Hoover, who wasn’t injured, said Ms. Mirutenko died instantly and didn’t suffer.

“The incident was all so sudden and surreal,” he said. “When a person of Tatiana’s bravado is taken so suddenly, the void that is left is numbing.”

She was 27 and had moved about two and a half years ago to San Francisco. That was after growing up in Hawthorn Woods and attending Lake Forest Academy, then moving from the Lake County suburb to Chicago following her 2013 graduation from Clemson University in South Carolina.

“We met at Fatpour Tapworks in Chicago in January 2014,” Hoover said. “I was living in the city after graduating from college. My brother and his college roommate were visiting me, and we attended a reunion . . . that included Tatiana. When I saw ‘T’ at the party, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. My brother helped to break the the ice between us. Once he introduced us, her vibrant personality and warm smile captured me for good. I referred to her as the ‘angel girl’ to my friends over the next couple of weeks until I asked her out on our first date — which was on Valentine’s Day.

James Hoover and Tatiana Mirutenko. | Facebook
James Hoover and Tatiana Mirutenko. | Facebook

“Our love began the first moment we met,” he said. “Everything clicked. I proposed to her in October 2015 during a weekend trip to her alma mater, Clemson University, for homecoming. I couldn’t believe how I got so lucky to marry her.

“We first moved in together in a condo in Old Town,” Hoover said. “Chicago was our home.”

Ms. Mirutenko was active in the Ukrainian community and with her church, and the couple got married at Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Not long after, they decided to move to San Francisco for her career. She worked in investor relations for the biopharmaceutical company Nektar Therapeutics.

“Tatiana was a bright and passionate rising star,” said Jennifer Ruddock, the company’s senior vice president of investor relations and corporate affairs. “She was always willing to help on any project . . . and had an incredibly strong work ethic . . . and sheer enthusiasm for life.”

Hoover said she loved food and wine, hiking and travel and had vacationed frequently with her family in Mexico at the beach town of Huatulco in Oaxaca.

“I went on two family vacations with them there,” he said. “T had many memories vacationing there with her family and friends since the time she was little.”

Ms. Mirutenko’s Instagram account is filled with photos of perfectly plated meals and from her adventures around the world. She was also happy binge-watching Netflix and eating in, Hoover said.

“Food was definitely an important part of her life,” he said. “I have so many great memories of us preparing meals together.”

Tatiana Mirutenko and James Hoover on their wedding day in 2017.
Tatiana Mirutenko and James Hoover on their wedding day in 2017.

In addition to her husband and parents Natalie and Wasyl Mirutenko, Ms. Mirutenko is survived by a younger sister, Roma.

Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Muzyka Funeral Home, 2157 W. Chicago Ave. The funeral is at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bloomingdale followed by burial at the church cemetery.

“She had an incredible amount of life left in her,” Hoover said. “I loved her so, so much.”

Tatiana Mirutenko with her rescue dog Chai, short for Chaika, a name inspired by Laika, the first dog in space. | Facebook
Tatiana Mirutenko with her rescue dog Chai, short for Chaika, a name inspired by Laika, the first dog in space. | Facebook