EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 7, 2014

Victim's family wants justice

Lawrence woman dies after Dec. crash

By Dustin Luca
dluca@eagletribune.com

---- — ANDOVER — The family of a Lawrence woman hit by a car while crossing North Main Street in December is seeking justice after she died from her injuries this week.

Doris Lopez, 61, of Lawrence, had just gotten off a bus on North Main Street on Dec. 30 and was headed to visit one of her nieces in Washington Park when the accident occurred at 6:23 p.m.

As she crossed the typically busy road at 6:23 p.m., she was struck by an SUV and carried about 20 feet on its hood before the vehicle came to a rest and the victim fell to the ground, according to police.

On Wednesday, after more than a month of fighting to overcome a host of injuries and health complications, which her family said included kidney failure, internal bleeding, complete dependence on a tube in order to breathe and a sudden attack of a fungus on several of her internal organs, Lopez succumbed to her injuries.

Now, as Lopez’s family reaches out to the community to raise $15,000 to help cover her funeral costs, they are looking to hold accountable the driver responsible for her death.

Christina Nickerson, 42, of Lancaster, was cited by Andover police following the accident for impeded operation. Andover Police Commander Charles Heseltine said at the time that Nickerson had told officers she “had taken her eyes off the road to attend to something on her (vehicle’s) console.”

Heseltine also said at the time the fact it was dark and Lopez wasn’t in a crosswalk when crossing the busy road may have contributed to the crash. He said there was a crosswalk about 30 feet north of where the accident occurred.

In light of Lopez’s death, Heseltine said yesterday that the Police Department is now reviewing the case in conjunction with the district attorney’s office. The time line for that meeting had not been set as of yesterday.

Heseltine declined to speculate on what could come out of the meeting. However, when asked if the situation facing Nickerson may change, he said, “it could.”

“Right now, the officers that were involved in the investigation are setting up a meeting with the district attorney’s office,” Heseltine said. “The officers are going to meet with the district attorney’s office and look at the report and what occurred.”

Lopez’s family, particularly her 20-year-old granddaughter, Lucinda, is hoping for more. They also question some of the details that have been assembled surrounding Lopez’s death.

“I was really offended when (the other driver) just got cited,” Lucinda Lopez said. “My grandmother had a future.”

After living in Lawrence for much of her life, Doris Lopez moved about a dozen years ago to Springfield, where she taught special education.

In June 2012, she returned to Lawrence to live with and help take care of her granddaughter, then a recent high school graduate with big plans ahead of her.

“Since I was little, she always took care of me,” Lucinda Lopez said. “I never considered her my grandmother. I called her my mom. She was there for my prom. She bought me my dress. She got my make-up.”

The two were planning vacations to Florida — “her dream was to leave New England and go to Florida,” Lopez’s granddaughter said — and they went out to eat frequently, often to Olive Garden.

When asked to describe her grandmother, Lucinda Lopez spoke of her loud, energetic laugh.

“She was always laughing. She was so loud,” the young woman said, chuckling. “She’d say, ‘I’m Puerto Rican! I’ll laugh all I want, as loud as I want to.’”

As they now grieve her death, Lopez’s family has established a donation drive through GoFundMe.com.

According to the page, “Doris was an amazing 61-year-old woman who dedicated her life to satisfying all of the roles she was given in life as mother, grandmother, aunt, sister and friend,” the page reads.

“Doris and her granddaughter, who she raised, lived together and struggled financially to pay the expenses of their rented apartment. ... We pray that you may find it in your hearts to make a donation toward Doris’ barrel.”

Lucinda Lopez said she takes comfort in knowing her grandmother is no longer suffering.

“I know she’s happy, looking down on me,” she said. “I’m going to make sure I make her happy in everything I do.”

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Those wishing to donate to the GoFundMe drive can do so at www.gofundme.com/6om7zs.