Driver who killed Miami Heat dancer surrenders to serve prison

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The driver who killed a Miami Heat dancer in a drunk-driving crash surrendered Monday to begin serving a 15-year prison sentence.

Mario Careaga, 49, turned himself in to a Broward jail nearly three years after he was convicted of DUI manslaughter in the death of Nancy Lopez-Ruiz.

“There is satisfaction,” her mother, Adela Ruiz-Lopez, said on Monday. “We’ve always believed in justice.”

The insurance executive had been free on bail pending an appeal, which he lost earlier this year.

It was back in September 2010 that Careaga, driving a Mercedes-Benz, hit Lopez-Ruiz as she rode her Suzuki motorcycle along East Sunrise Boulevard. She was killed instantly.

Prosecutors said Careaga had a blood-alcohol content level of .024, or triple the legal limit. He was sentenced in May 2014.

The 22-year-old dancer had just signed on to dance with the Miami Heat, which at the time was about to debut the dream trio of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Lopez-Ruiz, a native of Nicaragua, moved to the United States as an infant and graduated from Bradenton’s Bayshore High School, where she was active in athletics and also became captain of the school’s Honey Bears Dance team.

Her mother keeps Nancy Lopez-Ruiz’s ashes on an alter in her home, always accompanied by a purple orchid – her daughter’s favorite color.

“The family is still devastated,” her mother said. “There are no words to explain how we feel that our daughter won’t be coming back. For me, it still feels like the day she died.”


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