A university student died in a car crash days after attending the funeral of her father who died of cancer.
Nkechi Jessica Ugo, 20, was approaching the end of her studies at De Montfort University and was hoping to realise her dream of becoming a journalist when she was killed in the collision earlier this year.
She and her family, from Belgrave, Leicester, had travelled to Nigeria in March to lay her father to rest after he had died of cancer in December last year, aged 62.
Days after the funeral, Nkechi, who was also widely know as Jessica, was involved in a crash which claimed her life, and left two of her sisters seriously injured and in comas, reports Leicestershire Live.
Her loved ones and friends gathered in the city’s Abbey Park on Saturday to mark what would have been her 21st birthday.
Nkechi’s older sister, 27-year-old Jennifer, who is still recovering from her injuries, told LeicestershireLive : “Two of us were in a coma and did not know we had lost her until we woke up.
“Nobody expected us to come out of it alive. She didn’t, but we did.
“She had been hoping to have a big 21st birthday party with her family and friends.
“So we wanted to bring everyone together on the day to give her what she wanted and to say goodbye.
“I know she was watching us and saw how much people love her.
“She was a selfless person. She had grown up to be a really wonderful young woman.
“If you asked her for help with something, even if you thought it was an impossible situation, she would find a way.
“She wanted so much to be a journalist and was applying to the BBC as a graduate trainee.
“She was smart – the smartest in our family – and hardworking, and gave everything she did 100 per cent. She would have been a brilliant journalist.
“She had also started a business selling beauty products and make-up, and that was going so well. She had so many plans.
“She went to Nigeria for the burial of our dad and she never came back.”
Saturday’s memorial event, which saw people wearing white or gold tops, culminated in the release of balloons of the same colours.
Jennifer said white had been chosen to represent her sister’s “purity”, and gold because she was a “princess” who was known for her glamour and love of gold jewellery.
Jessica was an active member of an association for Nigerian people living in the city and wider county, called Ndi Igbo Leicestershire.
Its vice president, Chizor Onwuegbute, said: “Jessica was a special a young lady and well-loved within the Igbo Community here in Leicester.
“It is painfully sad that she was called to the glory of God so soon.
“Her parents are members of Ndi Igbo Leicestershire, whose members are from Igbo descendants in Nigeria.
“Here in Leicester, we celebrate New Yam festival annually and Jessica has always participated during this celebration by dancing or assisting with organising and entertainment.”
In a direct tribute, she added: “Jessica, Nid Igbo Leicester appreciate all your contributions and will miss definitely your beautiful dancing steps and rhythmic moves from your body that accompanies the sounds.
“Your elegance and radiance from your smile light up the room when you walk in and you showed respect to all and was always ready to help.
“Jessica, in your short life you touched both young and old and left examples worthy of emulation to other young people.
“Jessica, I bid you farewell until we meet to part no more. Sleep well my darling girl.
“May Almighty God continue to comfort your entire family and give them healing.”