1. Friday, April 26, 2002

    ATLANTA (AP) 

    Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of the top selling female trio TLC was killed in a car crash in Honduras, her record company said early Friday.

    Lopes, 31, was in Honduras for a vacation, Arista Records’ senior vice president of publicity Laura Swanson told The Associated Press. Lopes was reportedly among seven people in the car Thursday night and the only fatality.

    “No words can possibly express the sorrow and sadness I feel for this most devastating loss,” said Arista president L.A. Reid, who helped shape the career of the popular Atlanta-based R&B group.

    “Lisa was not only a gifted and talented musical inspiration, but more importantly, she was like a daughter to me. My thoughts and prayers are with Lisa’s family and friends. Her legacy will be remembered forever.”

    The location of the car crash was not immediately determined.

    TLC, which also includes Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, were the Grammy-winning group behind such hits as “Waterfall,” “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty.” Their latest album was “FanMail.”

    “We had all grown up together and were as close as a family,” the surviving bandmates said in a statement Friday. “Today we have truly lost our sister.”

    TLC had recently been in the studio working on a new record � due to have been released this summer. Lopes had tried to release her own album last year called “Supernova” but the project was shelved.

    In 1994, Lopes pleaded guilty to arson in a fire that destroyed the mansion of Altlanta Falcons receiver Andre Rison, her boyfriend. Lopes was sentenced to a halfway house and five years probation, plus a $10,000 fine.

    Lopes admitted she started the fire after an argument with Rison. The mansion was valued at more than $1 million. The two said last year they planned to marry.

    TLC sold millions of records since its first album debuted in 1992. But with success came turmoil. The trio declared bankruptcy a few years ago, citing poorly structured recording contracts.

    Watkins was hospitalized several times, suffering from sickle cell anemia, a serious blood disease, and infighting among group members also was reported.

    But in an interview with the AP in 2000, Watkins dismissed talk of a serious rift.

    “With three women, you agree to disagree. I’m not always going to agree with Lisa and she’s not always going to agree with me, that’s fine,” she said.

    Within in past few months, Lopes reportedly signed a solo deal with Suge Knight’s Death Row label to put out a solo project under the pseudonym, “N.I.N.A.” (New Identity Not Applicable). She also helped start the group “Blaque,” an R&B trio who had the hit “Bring It Home To Me.”