Mourners remember toddler's mother for humor, love of family

Mourners shared memories and tears during the funeral for the 35-year-old mother of a toddler who lost both of his parents to gunfire in the attack on a suburban Chicago Independence Day parade

ByKATHLEEN FOODY Associated Press
July 12, 2022, 2:24 PM
Law enforcement search after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Law enforcement search after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
The Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Mourners shared memories and tears Tuesday during the funeral for the mother of a 2-year-old boy who lost both his parents in the attack on a suburban Chicago Independence Day parade, and they pledged to care for young Aiden McCarthy and ensure he shares in their memories of his mom and dad.

Irina McCarthy, 35, and her husband Kevin McCarthy died on the parade route in Highland Park on July Fourth.

Strangers cared for their young son in the chaotic hours following the barrage of gunfire that killed seven people and wounded more than 30. A photo of the boy's round-cheeked face spread online, helping authorities to eventually reunite him with his mother's parents who had lost their only daughter.

Irina McCarthy's friends who spoke during the funeral in Wilmette, Illinois, remembered her as a big-hearted, dedicated woman who cherished her relationship with her parents and threw herself into marriage and motherhood.

Each speaker pledged to remain a part of Aiden’s life and make sure he hears stories of his parents, noting his own cheerful approach to life that echoes his mother’s smile and can-do attitude.

Family friends recalled Irina McCarthy as her mother's best friend and their own children's favorite babysitter, who calmly read aloud the definitions of “various unmentionable words” as the kids giggled endlessly.

“(Aiden) will be cared for by all of us,” said Vic Lichtenberg, a friend of Irina's parents. “He will have a family, a home and he’ll thrive and grow with us. Every moment, every time I look at that child, I see Irina.”

Brittany Chisum recalled meeting her friend in second grade. Irina was a bold, loyal girl who loved traveling abroad with her parents and became a devoted wife and a loving mother who once described herself and her husband as “obsessed” with their young son.

“I promise to always be there for Aiden ... We, as your closest friends, are going to spend the rest of our lives honoring your memory so Aiden knows what amazing parents he had,” she said tearfully.

Details of services for Kevin McCarthy, 37, have not been publicly announced.

Lake Country prosecutors charged Robert E. Crimo III with seven counts of murder last week and said they plan to follow up with attempted murder charges for each person wounded in the attack.

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