More than two dozen young adults gathered on the Circle last Saturday at noon to recall the life and mourn the death of Nohely Pachardo. The 18-year-old Miami Springs Senior High graduate lost her life around 5 a.m. Thursday morning.
Pachardo was a strikingly stunning young woman, immensely popular and had attended public school in Miami Springs, graduating in the Class of 2014. She had worked at Dairy Queen in Hialeah, where she lived, and planned to attend college.
According to reports, Pachardo was traveling north on the Turnpike with two female friends after leaving a party. The girls got into a verbal and physical altercation and the driver pulled over near Griffin Road.
Pachardo got out of the car and started walking across the highway. Her friends drove off intending to find a way to make a U-turn and pick up Pachardo on the other side but she was struck by a southbound vehicle and killed instantly. The driver wasn’t charged.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The gathering at the Gazebo came at the request of a Gazette reporter who wanted to speak to a few friends of Pachardo. Word spread and friends of the young woman began showing up, alone and in groups, mostly females. Many of the girls were wearing T-shirts with photos of their friend. No young person was accompanied by a parent.
The young adults stood in small groups, talking and trying to make sense of the tragedy. However, as with most tragedies, it was a matter of circumstances, small seemingly inconsequential events that culminated in a teenager losing her life. Although some details were known, Pachardo’s death was full of what-ifs and therefore unexplainable.
“I called her No-No. I’ve known her since eighth grade and she was my best friend at one point,” said Kathy Valenzuela. “We spent every day together. We talked like sisters and we went to each other’s house.”
Valenzuela said there was drinking at many parties attended by their group. “The way this happened; that wasn’t her. I think she had personal issues and that’s why she drank more. She was the go-to person for everyone if they needed advice or to be cheered up. And she was always the happiest girl with a smile on her face. It hasn’t hit me yet because I can’t believe this is real. I feel that I could wake up and talk to her again.”
Karen Delgado, 17, was at the party and in the car with her sister, Karla, 19, who was driving, as well as Pachardo.
“She (Nohely) wanted to stay at the party but we made her leave with us,” said Karen. “We were fighting and Nohely kept putting the car in park. So my sister pulled over to the side.”
Karen had scratches on her face because the argument turned physical. “Nohely got out of the car and started crossing to the other side. I saw her walking, so I thought she was safe. We wanted to go around and pick her up.”
By the time the girls were able to exit and head southbound to try to pick up their friend, traffic was jammed because of an accident. The girls didn’t know that the accident involved their friend, so Delgado and her sister went back to the party and enlisted friends to help look for Nohely.
“I thought we would see her walking,” said Delgado. The girls learned of their friend’s death by a phone call from police.
“I’ve known her since middle school. She would always come over to my house. She once came over at 3 in the morning to comfort me because I was upset,” said Karen. “I always told her when I had a problem because she would stand behind me.”
Nicole Ramos said she couldn’t recall one specific memory of her friend Nohely. “There are too many to recall just one.”
“The best memory is when our little group went to Rapids (water park),” said Lazaro Rodriguez. “Nohely was really happy and all of us were together.”
Andrea Rodriguez had known Nohely since they went to Springview Elementary and they were friends all through school. “I saw her last weekend when we went to a party in the Springs.”
Karla and her sister Karen were the last people to see Nohely alive. “I don’t want people to think that Nohely was just a party girl. We all went to parties,” said Karla.
“She was a strong girl,” said Karla. “She could beat up me and my sister at the same time. We begged her not to leave the car, that we would take care of the problem when we got home, but she pushed me and got out and crossed to the other side. I thought she would wait for us to go around and pick her up.”
Yanilette Vargas said, “We grew up together. Every time I was with Nohely is a favorite memory. I was never sad when I was with her. She cared about everyone. She put everyone above herself. I want her to be remembered for the right reasons. Not for drinking and being a party girl.”
Nohely’s boyfriend, Rigo Ferrera, 24, said, “We had a relationship for a long time. Friends at first, she would come to me for advice and comfort. The last time I saw her was Wednesday afternoon. We watched TV and she talked about her plans for school. She was excited about her future and our relationship was the strongest. I want her to be remembered as someone full of life. She brought joy to everyone.”
Leidy Padrino was the last person to hear from Nohely. After leaving her friend’s car on the Turnpike, Nohely texted Padrino and called her, asking to be picked up.
A sobbing Padrino said, “She called me and I tried so hard to get to her. I want to know what happened. She’s not here to tell me. She texted me and said, ‘I need you.’ I was the last person to hear her voice and that will live with me for the rest of my life.”
Funeral services were held on Sunday at Funeraria Hialeah Memorial. Special thanks to Krista Schubert for her help in making contacts for this article.