Cedar City • Heather and Albert Alvarado were like two peas in a pod. They were a beautiful couple.
That’s how two Cedar City firefighters remembered them Wednesday. Heather died of wounds suffered in the Sunday night Las Vegas massacre. Her husband, Albert, was a fellow firefighter.
She had gone to the Route 91 Harvest Festival with a group of women, including her 14-year-old daughter, who was not shot.
Albert had remained home with the couple’s two other children, ages 7 and 4.
Firefighter James Wood has known the couple for 10 years. Heather and Albert were an important part of the family of firefighters in this Southern Utah town, he explained.
“They were always trying to help other firefighters and their families,” Wood said. “And they really liked being together.”
There are tough days ahead for Albert and their kids, Wood said, choking back emotions. Their lives have been changed forever.
Heather, 35, was one of at least 59 fatalities in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
A vigil for the shooting victims took place on Wednesday at Southern Utah University, on the Cedar City school’s business quad.
Mesquite, Nev., resident Stephen Paddock fired automatic weapons into the crowd of 22,000 at the outdoor venue from the windows of his 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay hotel.
Investigators have yet to determine a motive for the slaughter.
“This is going to leave a hole and scar,” said firefighter Mike Phillips. “She was part of us. It’s hard to believe we won’t see her again — in this life anyway.”
Heather always looked for the good in people, Phillips said.
“She’s up above, saying positive things came out of this tragedy,” he said. “The pulling together of the community ... strangers trying to save people they didn’t know ... many good things have overshadowed what this coward did.”
And, fortunately, Albert has a strong support network between family, friends and firefighters, Wood said.
“Their family, their support, it’s just amazing,” he said. “This is a tight town. They have support from all around.”
Albert has always been a “solid guy,” who can handle just about anything, Wood said.
“He’s one of those guys who will give you the shirt off his back and then help you down the street to make sure you make it home safe,” he said. “When I haven’t been able to go home, he’s gone over to help my wife. He’s our brother.”
Wood and Phillips are trying to come to grips with the tragedy, but it remains difficult – unreal.
“Like 9/11,” Phillips said, “Oct. 1, 2017, is going to be one of those days when I’ll always remember what I was doing and where I was at.”
For those wishing to contribute to funeral, medical and other costs, an account has been opened at the State Bank of Utah in Heather Alvarado’s name. A GoFundMe page also has been set up to help the family.
Two other people killed in the massacre have Utah ties — former Salt Lake City resident Neysa Tonks, 46, and St. George-area resident Cameron Robinson, 28.