MANATEE — Bradenton’s Adela Lopez went to the Prime Outlet Mall in Ellenton Sunday to buy a dress for her daughter, Nancy G. Lopez-Ruiz.
She picked what she felt Nancy would like, antique white organza, long and flowing, with a matching jacket. It cost $150 at BCBG Max Azria.
“At the register, the lady said, ‘All sales are final,’ ” said Nancy’s older sister, Marjorie Lacy, who helped her mother pick out the dress. “I got teary when she said it. This is the last garment Nancy will ever wear.”
Nancy Lopez-Ruiz, a graduate from Bayshore High School who just turned 22 on June 6, was killed Friday night in Fort Lauderdale when her motorcycle was struck from behind by a motorist.
Never miss a local story.
The former Bayshore High Honey Bear dancer was coming home from practice with the NBA’s Miami Heat, who had just hired her for their dance team.
Described by her family members as vivacious and bursting with life, Lopez-Ruiz shared her organs and skin tissue with donors.
Her visitation is 5-8 p.m. Thursday at Brown and Sons Funeral Home, 5624 26th St. W. Her funeral Mass is scheduled 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bradenton.
The accident occurred around 9:30 p.m. Friday as Lopez-Ruiz, who lived in Plantation, was riding her 2003 Suzuki GSX R in the westbound right-hand lane of in the 700 block of East Sunrise Boulevard.
Police said Mario Careaga of Fort Lauderdale had been driving his 2009 Mercedes-Benz behind Lopez-Ruiz on the boulevard. At some point, the Mercedes struck the median at the lane split and curve of North Federal Highway, then struck the motorcycle, knocking the dancer off her bike.
Lopez-Ruiz was pronounced dead on at the scene. It’s unclear if she was wearing a helmet.
Blood samples were taken from Careaga. Police are waiting toxicology reports.
Police said they were continuing to investigate the accident.
On Sunday night, the Lopez-Ruiz family home in West Glen was filled with hugging people and pictures of Lopez-Ruiz.
Her mother and father moved to Bradenton from Nicaragua 21 years ago when she was an infant; four sisters and two brothers also survive her.
Lopez-Ruiz recently spent 15 days in her native Nicaragua, where she was born, to meet her mother’s parents. It was as if she sensed something, her mother said Sunday night.
“ ‘I have to do it before I die,’ ” Adela recalled her daughter saying.
When her grandparents heard about her death, a massive celebration of her life began in their town, Leon.
“Prayers and music until 2 a.m.,” Adela Lopez said.
Adela earned her master’s degree in reading from the University of South Florida and teaches in Bradenton.
“We wanted a small town to raise our children,” said Adela Lopez. All five girls attended Bayshore High School, including Marjorie, 30, Indira, 26, Meylin, 25, Nancy, and Stephanie, 18.
Pictures of Nancy Lopez-Ruiz were arranged on the mantle of the family home.
There was one of her as a wiry 9-year-old after winning a national aerobics dance competition.
There was a recent one of Lopez-Ruiz as a beauty pageant contestant.
There was one of Lopez-Ruiz hugging her father, Armando, who is an aviation mechanic for APP Aviation at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
There was one of Lopez-Ruiz standing proudly by her mother, after the same dance competition.
Family members were drained. They said they have been crying since Friday night when they received news of Lopez-Ruiz’ death.
“I have been crying for two days without stopping,” said Adela Lopez. “I am devastated. I am really sad. I am feeling my daughter’s life is gone and she was 22 and so many dreams and hopes. I feel I can’t explain right now. I am doing my best.”
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686 Miami Herald Staff Writers Michael Wallace and Diana Moskovitz contributed to this report.