Ariel Romero, a first-year Chapman law student, sat at a funeral Oct. 19, wearing a light blue floral dress, her chin bandaged and wrapped in gauze.
A little more than two weeks earlier, Romero was shot in the face during the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, which killed 58 and wounded nearly 500. Her boyfriend’s sister, Christiana Duarte, 22, was killed during the shooting.
Romero attended Duarte’s funeral Thursday at the St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach, which was followed by a burial service at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Mikey Duarte, who is Christiana Duarte’s brother and Romero’s boyfriend, said during a eulogy that he wore white to the funeral because the bright color reflected Duarte’s love and caring heart for everyone at the mass.
“I’m wearing this suit because I wanted to dance with her at her wedding,” Mikey Duarte said during his eulogy, as he cried. “Today, it’s her wedding, bachelorette party, baby shower, birthdays and every single holiday that we’ll have to spend without her.”
Romero did not speak at the service, but walked in the procession with the Duarte family.
Mikey Duarte said that his sister changed their family’s lives forever, bringing laughter and a caring and loving soul.
“I always thought that I was the older sibling,” he said during the eulogy. “Looking back, I see how she was. She protected me, stuck up for me.”
Romero received jaw surgery Oct. 3 and is resting at her home in Bellflower while she recovers, said family friend Danette Meyers.
“She is physically on the mend,” Meyers told The Panther Oct. 19. “This kind of situation, however, is very mentally challenging to recover from.”
Romero’s enrollment status at Chapman is unclear as she recovers from her injuries, said Dean of Students Jerry Price.
“Because she is still in recovery, it is difficult to put a timeline together as to when she will be back at Chapman,” Price said. “Having said this, with registration coming up for the spring semester, we will absolutely work with her family to make sure that her life as a student isn’t ignored.”