Behind the Mysterious Death of TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes

The death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes is as sad as it is mysterious. 

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Lopes rose to fame as one-third of the R&B group TLC, alongside bandmates Tionne Watkins and Rozonda Thomas, who dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s R&B scene with hits including “Waterfalls,” “No Scrubs” and “Creep.” The group was riding high on their success when Lopes’ life was tragically cut short on April 25, 2002, when she died in a car accident in Honduras at the age of 30. It was no coincidence that she was there, as People reported in 2002 that Lopes was drawn to do mission work in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998. 

Lopes and some friends were on a 30-day spiritual retreat in Honduras, an experience she was documenting with a handheld camera. The footage was later used for the 2007 VH1 documentary, Last Days of Left Eye. But there is an air of bone-chilling mystery around her death, as merely days before, tragedy struck when the vehicle she was a passenger in that was being driven by her assistant, Stephanie Patterson, accidentally hit a boy named Bayron Isaul Fuentes Lopez when he stepped into the road.

According to People, Lopes’ attorney in Honduras said at the time that the incident was not reported to the police and that Lopes personally paid more than $3,000 dollars for the boy’s medical and funeral costs. Philadelphia Weekly also stated that Lopes held the boy’s injured head while others tried to resuscitate him via mouth-to-mouth, but to no avail.

“They assumed responsibility,” the lawyer said. “The family did not want to give Stephanie a hassle.” “Why should we have called the police?” Lopez’s mother Gloria Fuentes said to People. “Lisa was an excellent person, the way she treated me and took care of my son.”

In Last Days of Left Eye, Lopes says that it felt like a spirit was haunting her and noticed the fact that she and the young boy shared similar last names. The singer’s life soon came to a tragic halt when she was operating an SUV in the town of La Ceiba, Honduras, and swerved to avoid an oncoming car, losing control of the vehicle as it hit two trees and rolled several times before coming to a stop in a ditch. Lopes was one of three people who was thrown out of the window, dying on impact from blunt force trauma to the head. The other passengers endured injuries, but Lopes was the only one killed in the crash. The disturbing moment can be seen at the end of Last Days, as Lopes can be seen driving with passengers in the backseat, the sound of their screams the last thing the viewer hears as the vehicle runs off the road and the camera cuts out.

Lopes was working on establishing a pair of educational centers in the impoverished country for children, Camp YAC and Creative Castle, at the time of her death. To honor her memory, Lopes’ family founded the Lisa Lopes Foundation after her death to help underprivileged youth.

“She used to say, ‘Energy doesn’t die, it just transfers,’” her brother Ronald Jr. Lopes recalled. 

Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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