JEFFERSON PARK — Jennifer Flores recently buried her 14-year-old daughter after she was killed in a crash — but she wasn’t able to give her child a headstone.
Now, Flores is turning to the community to help pay for a headstone. She’s started an online fundraiser to gather $2,500.
Flores’ daughter, Arnelis “Nelly” Flores, died in July after a crash on the Eisenhower Expressway on the West Side. The Jefferson Park teen is being mourned by a group of close friends and her large family, said her mother.
Loved ones of the family raised more than $13,000 for Nelly Flores’ funeral, which Jennifer Flores used for her daughter’s service and to pay for her living expenses after not working for three weeks. That left her unable to buy a headstone for her daughter.
Flores recently went back to work, and she wants to complete her daughter’s send-off.
“I feel horrible she doesn’t have a headstone,” Flores said. “I have three other kids, and we are all just trying to move forward. It’s the hardest thing anyone could imagine. I just want my three [kids] to be happy. I’m doing my best to stay strong and make that happen.”
Nelly Flores is buried at Acacia Park Cemetery in Norridge alongside her grandfather. The plot where she is buried was going to be for Flores’ mother “at the end of the road,” she wrote on the online fundraiser.
“But life is not fair and grandma gave her spot with grandpa so Arnelis will always have Grandpa with her. She is not underground alone,” Flores wrote.
Flores said she wants her daughter’s headstone to include information for her own father, reading, “Loving daughter and loving father and grandfather.”
A state police spokesperson said the investigation into Nelly Flores’ death is ongoing.
On July 17, Nelly Flores and two of her sisters were driving home with their father when he pulled over on the expressway shoulder to use the bathroom, Jennifer Flores said. The family was coming home from a sports car meetup that involved fireworks, drag racing and alcohol, she said.
A driver rear-ended the side of the car where Nelly Flores was sitting, Jennifer Flores said. All of the people involved were seriously injured, an Illinois State Police spokesperson previously said. Nelly Flores died in the hospital a few days later.
Jennifer Flores’ 12-year-old daughter, Lulu, who was sitting across from Nelly Flores in the back seat, has minor injuries, Jennifer Flores said.
“It’s a miracle that my 12-year-old came out fine,” she previously said. Lulu “said Nelly is the only reason why she is still alive.”
The Flores family remembered Nelly Flores as a dedicated friend who loved to dance, make videos on TikTok and spend time with her sisters. She had recently graduated eighth grade and was excited to attend Taft High School, a family tradition, her mother said. She had hoped to become a lawyer because she loved to win arguments.
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