'Taken too soon': Remembering Highland Park shooting victims
Yesenia Hernandez, granddaughter to Nicolas Toledo, who was killed during Monday's Highland Park., Ill., Fourth of July parade, writes on a memorial for Toledo along with the six others who lost their lives in the mass shooting, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Highland Park. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Claire Savage And Harm Venhuizen , The Associated Press
Published Thursday, July 7, 2022 9:00AM EDT
CHICAGO (AP) — Two of the victims of a July Fourth parade massacre in a Chicago suburb left behind a 2-year-old son. Another was staying with family in Illinois after he was injured in car wreck.
For some, it was a tradition. They were avid travelers, members of their synagogue and professionals. But in a hail of gunfire they became victims in the nation's latest horrific mass shooting.
The victims were Kevin McCarthy, 37; Irina McCarthy, 35; Katherine Goldstein, 64; Stephen Straus, 88; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78; and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69.
KEVIN and IRINA MCCARTHY
It was supposed to be a fun day for the couple, who brought their 2-year-old son, Aiden, with them to watch marching bands and patriotic floats.
Instead they were killed in the gunfire, leaving their son orphaned. A stranger scooped up the blood-covered toddler and handed him to Greg Ring as he took cover with his wife and three children behind a popular pancake house.
“We kind of met eyes and didn’t say anything. ... I put my arms out, and she gave him to me,” Ring said Wednesday, when describing the exchange with the unidentified woman, who then lay down in front of their car in shock.
The boy pointed in the direction of the parade route, saying: “Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy.”
The family was later able to identify the boy and reunite him with his grandparents. Friends of the McCarthys said Irina’s parents would care for the boy going forward.
Irina Colon wrote on a GoFundMe page that the boy would “have a long road ahead to heal, find stability, and ultimately navigate life as an orphan."
Straus showed up to the parade early and was attending alone, according to his grandchildren, who ate dinner with him the night before.
The Independence Day parade was an annual tradition for Straus — one of the many ways the 88-year-old financial advisor stayed active and involved in his community. According to his family, Straus rode the train to work every day, walked and biked regularly, and loved to visit art museums and festivals.
“Despite his age, he was taken too soon,” said grandson Maxwell Straus.
Maxwell and his brother, Tobias, fondly recalled going out for Sunday night dinners with their grandfather, a weekly routine that persisted despite the COVID-19 pandemic, when the grandsons would visit outside his window.
Losing their grandfather was a surreal experience, the brothers said. “You never really imagine something like that can happen to you or your loved ones,” said Maxwell Straus.
Stephen Straus is survived by a brother, a wife, his son and four grandchildren.
Sundheim loved her synagogue, where she once taught preschoolers and coordinated bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies. She had worked there for decades and was a devoted, lifelong member known for her kindness and warmth, synagogue officials said in a statement.
“There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki’s death and sympathy for her family and loved ones,” three synagogue leaders said in the statement.
Sundheim, 63, was survived by her husband, Bruce, and their daughter Leah, according to an email the synagogue sent to congregants.
Goldstein's husband described her as an easygoing travel companion who was always game to visit far-flung locales.
“She didn’t complain,” Craig Goldstein, a hospital physician, told The New York Times. “She was always along for the ride.”
Goldstein was a mother of two daughters in their early 20s, Cassie and Alana. She attended the parade with her eldest daughter, Cassie, so she could reunite with friends from high school, Goldstein said.
He said his wife had recently lost her mother and had given thought to what kind of arrangements she might want when she dies.
He recalled that Katherine, an avid bird watcher, said she wanted to be cremated and to have her remains scattered in the Montrose Beach area of Chicago, where there is a bird sanctuary.
Toledo-Zaragoza had come to Illinois to visit his family about two months ago, his granddaughter, Xochil Toledo, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
His family wanted him to stay permanently because of injuries he had suffered after being hit by a car a couple of years ago during an earlier visit to Highland Park. The newspaper reported that he was hit by three bullets and died at the scene.
His death left behind a large, loving family mourning his loss.
Nicolas was a “loving man, creative, adventurous and funny,” Toledo wrote in an online fundraising post, describing him as a father of eight and grandfather to many. “I love you abuelito.”
For the Uvaldo family, like others in the Highland Park area, the Independence Day parade was an annual tradition, according to a GoFundMe page organized by his granddaughter, Nivia Guzman.
When gunfire erupted from a rooftop along the parade route, Eduardo Uvaldo was shot in his arm and the back of his head. His wife, Maria, was struck in the head by bullet fragments and his grandson was shot in the arm.
Eduardo Uvaldo was brought to the hospital where, after receiving treatment and evaluation from doctors, the family was told there was nothing left to do, Guzman wrote. A GoFundMe update shows he was taken off life support Tuesday.
Uvaldo died just before 8 a.m. on Wednesday at Evanston Hospital.
Savage reported from Chicago and Venhuizen reported from Madison, Wisconsin. AP journalists Martha Irvine in Chicago and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri, also contributed to this report.