Ten years after getting married, Maribel Macedo and Armando Gomez Sanchez were finally celebrating their honeymoon in Florida, but the trip ended in unspeakable tragedy after they were killed in a horrific car crash on New Year’s Eve.
“They were basically on their first vacation,” their daughter Isela Macedo said.
Outside the dry cleaning shop named after her, Isela recalls how the Chicago couple celebrated Christmas with family in Texas, then slipped away to Florida for fireworks at Disneyworld.
“They got the last two tickets available for the fireworks show. Throughout the whole show, I was on the phone on Saturday around 5, 6 pm in Florida,” she said. “They were showing me the castle , all the people, the light up ears, all the music. They were having the time of their lives. They were saying to us ‘it’s a dream to be here, to experience such magical land.’ I was so happy they got that experience.”
As they left the show on a foggy Interstate-75 in Columbia County, Mari and Mando, as they were affectionately called, were killed in a 21-car pileup.
Isela called her parents from Chicago as the new year began, but didn’t get an answer. She then called the Florida State Police, who delivered the news that they had been involved in a crash.
“They confirmed their license plates were involved in the accident, and I started calling all the trauma one centers in Florida and unable to find them,” she said.
“On Jan. 3, that’s when I got the news that both of my parents had passed in that accident,” she said.
Tonight, their popular Edgewater dry cleaner on West Devon – once named Chicago’s Best- is dark tonight. A sign on the door holds a grim message for customers, informing them of Mari’s passing, and instructions to pick up their belongings.
“They’ve been like a pillar of this community. I’m still in disbelief. I know I’ll never hear their voices or their laughter or get that hug from them. But I’m overwhelmed with joy with support community has given us,” Isela said.
On Saturday, clients are welcomed to help them pay respects from 7-9pm at Green Burial of Love on 6250 North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. Family is also holding an online fundraiser for funeral and transport expenses.
“I think if one of them had passed and the other one hadn’t, I don’t know how they would have recuperated from that because they were each others’ world,” their daughter said.