Ft. Lauderdale, FL- The trial of a Ft. Lauderdale man accused of killing a 21 year-old Miami Heat dancer in a 2010 DUI accident began Tuesday with opening statements and witness testimony, and will soon move on to the tragic events that led to Nancy Lopez-Ruiz’s death.
The deceased woman’s parents have been waiting for this trial for more than three years, and vowed to be in the courtroom until the trial, which is expected to last several days, is over and the driver is, hopefully, convicted.
“Three and a half years of waiting, and finally this is coming to the public, to trial,” Adela Lopez-Ruiz, Nancy’s mother told the Sun-Sentinel. “This was a painful journey for us. We are praying and anticipating that justice will be served for Nancy.”
Mario Careaga, 46, is accused being over three times the legal limit when he plowed into Lopez-Ruiz in Ft. Lauderdale on Sept. 10, 2010.
Lopez-Ruiz was a college student living in Plantation and has just been given a spot on the Miami Heat dance team—her first performance was slated for October.
On the night of the accident Lopez-Ruiz was riding her motorcycle–Suzuki GSX R—when she stopped at a traffic triangle—called a gore– on Eastern Sunrise Boulevard. According to the Sun-Sentinel, a surveillance camera nearby captured footage of Lopez-Ruiz stopping in the gore, removing her helmet and walking to the rear of her bike.
She was struck as she was trying to merge back onto Sunrise Blvd. after her brief stop, but that footage hasn’t been released to the public. Prosecutors however will surely show the jury video footage of the actual crash.
Police say Careaga, an insurance agent, crossed three lanes of traffic before rear-ending Lopez-Ruiz’s bike with his 2009 Mercedes. The impact of the crash was so great that Lopez-Ruiz was thrown 135 feet into the street. She was pronounced dead on the scene.
The police report said Careaga was visibly drunk, had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and admitted to have two drinks earlier that evening. But a Breathalyzer taken 90 minutes after the accident showed his blood alcohol level was .24, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Months after the accident, once toxicology test results came back, Careaga was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter and one count of reckless driving. Apparently, the two counts of vehicular manslaughter give prosecutors different ways to prove intoxication and increase their chances of securing a conviction.
During Tuesday’s testimony, a passenger, Ryan Stapleton, traveling in Careaga’s car said he had three vodka-tonics while at the Galleria Mall. Stapleton said he told Careaga to watch out for the woman on the motorcycle. Prosecutors seized on this testimony to prove how intoxicated Careaga was when he violently struck Lopez-Ruiz.
Drunk driving has many consequences, as this fatal drunk driving accident shows. People who make a simple mistake deserve to defend themselves and negate the penalties with the help of DUI attorney with Leader & Leader, PA. But DUI drivers who take a person’s life should suffer the consequences of their actions.