Driver Who Struck Heat Dancer Had Been Drinking: Report

Nancy Lopez-Ruiz was set to begin her first season with the Heat Dancers when she was struck by a car while riding her motorcycle

By Janie Campbell
|  Thursday, Sep 30, 2010  |  Updated 1:00 PM EDT
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Driver Who Struck Heat Dancer Had Been Drinking: Report

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Documents related to a vehicular crash that claimed the life of a Miami Heat dancer contain an admission from the driver suspected of causing the accident that he "had just left the Galleria Mall where he had consumed two vodka drinks."

Nancy Lopez-Ruiz, 22, was driving her Suzuki GSXR motorcycle westbound on East Sunrise Boulevard on the evening of Friday, September 10, when a car traveling behind her drove onto the median at the North Federal Highway split.

The driver, Fort Lauderdale resident Mario Careaga, then steered his 2009 Mercedes back into the far right lane and collided with Lopez-Ruiz's motorcycle.

She was thrown from the bike, and pronounced dead on scene.

An officer on scene who spoke to Careaga "noted signs of impairment including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, strong odor of an alcoholic beverage being emitted from Careaga's breath and Careaga had difficulties supporting himself," according to documents obtained by CBS4

"There is a probable cause to believe that Mario Careaga was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and/or controlled substance at the time of this crash," reads a search warrant.

The language suggests charges of DUI manslaughter will be forthcoming if toxicology tests return confirmation that Careaga was intoxicated. According to a Fort Lauderdale police spokesman, such tests can take months.

Lopez-Ruiz had been selected to the Heat's dance team at tryouts in late July, the fulfillment of a life-long dream.
 
"Nancy was a lovely young woman with an upbeat personality," the Heat's vice president of business operations, Eric Woolworth, said in a statement. "Her fierce passion for dancing was contagious. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends and teammates."

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