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Pa. woman remembered as caring mother

March 10, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A young woman who died Wednesday night from injuries sustained in an accident is being remembered by family as a caring mother to her son and a role model for her younger siblings.

"She was going to be 21 in about three weeks. I know it sounds clich, but she was just starting her life," said Laura Carbaugh, Andriea Kristeen Lopez's mother.

Lopez, a resident of Mercersburg, was pronounced dead at Winchester (Va.) Medical Center shortly after her vehicle hit a tree at 5:30 p.m. on Interstate 81 in Bunker Hill, W.Va., about one-half mile from the Virginia state line.

The 1988 Honda Civic that reportedly fishtailed on the road before the collision was Lopez's first vehicle, according to her mother.

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Two eyewitnesses reported seeing the car ease into the median in what was the third fatal accident in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia in the last seven days.

"They said it was real slow," Sgt. Willie Johnson of the Berkeley County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Department said of Lopez's car.

The eyewitnesses said Lopez tried to regain control but hit the tree on the car's driver's side.

Lopez left behind a son, Nathaniel Miller. Just days away from his second birthday, he shared his mother's blond hair and blue eyes.

"He looks like her," said the boy's father, Tim Miller. "He's got her face."

Tim Miller met Lopez 4 1/2 years ago and described her as an upbeat person.

"She was a great mother," he said.

Lopez, a graduate of James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, attentively monitored her son's diabetes. She enjoyed spending time with him as well as with her several younger siblings, Carbaugh said.

"She was their role model," Carbaugh said.

Laura Carbaugh and her husband, Robert, had talked to Lopez about organ donation.

"We were always under the belief you can help someone else. We donated her heart, her corneas and made a skin donation," Carbaugh said.

Lopez, the daughter of Jaime Lopez of California, moved with her mother several times. They made their home in California, Colorado and Hagerstown before moving to Mercersburg, where they lived for the past eight years.

Carbaugh, who said Lopez was as much her friend as a daughter, shared books and music with her.

"She loved music. She was a band student from sixth grade all the way through high school," Carbaugh said.

Lopez was employed by Vixens Nightclub in Bunker Hill and had been saving money for the future.

"She thought she was going to live forever," her mother said.

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