On April 25, 2002, in La Ceiba, Honduras, while driving a rented Mitsubishi Pajero around a bend in the road, Lopes swerved to the right slightly then again to the left as she tried to avoid a collision with another vehicle that was in her lane ahead of her (it is not clear as to the direction of travel of the other vehicle at the time of the accident). The vehicle rolled several times after hitting two trees, throwing Lopes and three others out of the windows. She died of neck injuries and severe head trauma, and was the only person fatally injured in the accident. Raina Lopes, in the front passenger seat, was videotaping at the time, so the last seconds leading up to the swerve that resulted in the fatal accident were recorded on video. In the video, Lisa appears to not be wearing a seat belt.
Her funeral was held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia on May 2, 2002. Thousands of people attended her funeral. Engraved upon her casket were the lyrics to her portion of “Waterfalls”: “Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you.” Lopes was buried at Hillandale Memorial Gardens, in Lithonia, Georgia.
In a statement to MTV, producer Jermaine Dupri remembered Lopes:
She was determined to be something in life. She was a true Hip-Hop star. She cared about some press. She was the star out of the group. She was the one who would curse on TV. She had the tattoos. You could not expect the expected. When you see Lisa, you could expect something from her. That is the gift she carried.
Controversy over leaked autopsy photos led to a protest by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In response, Earnhardt, Jr. and his DEI teammates Michael Waltrip and Steve Park painted a single black stripe next to the left headlight decals of their Chevrolet Monte Carlos for the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway to protest about the display of her autopsy photos.] A similar controversy had befallen Earnhardt, Jr. himself after his father‘s death in the Daytona 500 a year earlier.
A documentary showing the final 27 days of Lopes’ life, titled The Last Days of Left Eye, premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival in April 2007, for an audience that included many of Lopes’ contemporaries, including Monica, Ronnie DeVoe, 112, Big Boi, India.Arie, and CeeLo Green. VH1 and VH1 Soul broadcast the documentary on May 19, 2007. Much of the footage was shot with a hand-held camera, often in the form of diary entries filmed by Lopes while on a 30-day spiritual retreat in Honduras with family and members of the R&B group Egypt. In these entries, she reflected on her personal life and career. A calmer side of her personality was on display, showing interests in numerology and yoga. She was in the process of setting up an educational center for Honduran children on 80 acres (32 ha) of land she owned called CAMP YAC as well as another center, CREATIVE CASTLE.
- May, 27, 1971
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- April, 25, 2002
- La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras
Cause of Death
- died of neck injuries and severe head trauma from an auto accident
- Hillandale Memorial Gardens