They were two young women out on the town and celebrating success.
One was 24-year-old Stacy Jurich, a recent college grad who earned a glowing work review.
The other was Natasha McShane, 23, an exchange student from Ireland attending the University of Illinois at Chicago.
At about 3:30 a.m. this morning, they were walking to Jurich’s Bucktown home from a bar in Wicker Park when the night turned ugly.
A robber attacked them with an aluminum baseball bat near railroad tracks in the 1800 block of North Damen. After the attack, the man stole their purses and ran away. Both women were beaten unconscious and taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital, where they are in the intensive care unit.
“Jesus, why would they do that? It’s crazy,” said Jurich’s stepfather, Rick Van Etten.
Her mother, Wendy Gay Van Etten, said, “She’s a wonderful girl. I wish there were more Stacys in the world and less people like the son of gun who tried to take her out.”
With tears in her eyes, she added, “Natasha got the worst of it.”
Jurich works at a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney brokerage in the western suburbs, according to her mother. She had received a good job review Tuesday and went out to celebrate with McShane.
During the attack, Jurich was struck in the back of the head and dazed, her mother said. She stumbled and the attacker went after McShane, striking her in the head two or three times. McShane crumpled to the ground unconscious in a pool of blood.
When Jurich tried to help McShane, the robber struck Jurich in the head again, her mother said. Jurich knew she needed to escape and screamed for a cabbie to stop his taxi, but the man saw the blood on her clothes and kept going. A second cabbie then stopped and called 911. That’s when Jurich passed out.
This afternoon, Jurich was lucid and able to speak to her mother, although she was having seizures. “The doctors are keeping a close watch on her,” her mother said.
Authorities said McShane was in critical condition. Her parents have been contacted in Ireland and are trying to travel to Chicago, but are concerned they will get delayed by the volcanic ash from the recent eruption in Iceland, Wendy Gay Van Etten said.
Jurich grew up in suburban Oak Forest and graduated in 2008 from North Central College in Naperville. She suffers from an autoimmune disease that sometimes makes walking difficult, but she was feeling OK recently, her mother said.
McShane is a student at University College Dublin. Since January, she’s been studying at the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at UIC, said Bill Burton, a spokesman for the school. “Our thoughts are with the student and her family.”
The robber was black; 27 to 34; 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-9; and wore a tan or light colored hooded sweatshirt, police said.