Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 20, 2014

Family seeks justice after Dec. crash proves fatal

By Dustin Luca
dluca@andovertownsman.com

---- — 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 injuriesearlier this month.

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 Lopez crossed the typically busy road, she was struck by an SUV and carried about 20 feet on its hood before the vehicle came to a rest and she fell to the ground, according to police.

Last Wednesday, Feb. 5, after more than a month of fighting to overcome a host of injuries and health complications, Lopez succumbed to her injures, which her family said had 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.

Now, Lopez’s family is looking to hold accountable the driver responsible for her death.

Christina Nickerson, 42, of Lancaster, was cited by Andover police for impeded operation following the accident. 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 the Police Department is now reviewing the case in conjunction with the district attorney’s office.

“The officers are going to meet with the district attorney’s office and look at the report and what occurred,” he said.

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.”

Lopez’s family, particularly her 20-year-old granddaughter, Lucinda Lopez, 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 enjoyed planning vacations together — “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 grieved her death, Lopez’s family also reached out to the community for help raising $15,000 to cover her funeral expenses.

They 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, meanwhile, 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.”

Those wishing to donate to the GoFundMe drive in Doris Lopez’s memory can do so at www.gofundme.com/6om7zs.