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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Family grieves for student killed in Sept. 14 accident

Even without his teeth, Andrew Enriquez smiled.

His cousin, Danny Enriquez, a law student at Georgetown University, said Andy wasn't embarrassed by how long it took for his adult teeth to grow in. Grinning always came naturally.

But now, his smile is forever frozen in pictures and memories.

Andy Enriquez, a 20-year-old UF history junior who hoped to become a lawyer, died Sept. 14 in a single-vehicle accident on Southwest 13th Street.

"I miss him so much," said his mother, Sue Enriquez, between bursts of sobs. "I have a pain in my heart like there's something missing."

From grieving to giving

The Enriquez family has set up a memorial fund with the UF Foundation in Andrew Enriquez's name to raise money for a UF scholarship.

"I hope his death leads to some student being able to fulfill their dreams," Sue said, sniffling. "So he didn't die totally in vain."

So far, the family has not requested a memorial service from UF.

Enriquez was the middle child. His sister Amanda is 21, and his brother Timothy is 15.

Family was everything to Enriquez, Sue said. His siblings and cousins were his best friends and support system.

Andy's friends were his family too.

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About 2,000 people were at Enriquez's funeral Sept. 17 in Key Biscayne, Danny Enriquez said.

For love and history

Enriquez loved spending time on the family's boat, said his father Tim Enriquez.

"He would fish all day if you let him," he added.

He loved history, weightlifting and running.

Tim said Enriquez worked hard to become a Gator.

He spent one year at Tallahassee Community College and one year at SFCC before getting accepted to UF.

He liked music, mostly "that rap stuff," Tim said.

The 5-foot-11-inch Enriquez was a ladies' man, his dad said.

"He had really pretty girls around here," he said with a laugh.

"I want you back"

In everything he did, Enriquez celebrated his life, Tim said. He loved everyone he met.

Tim said he doesn't think Andy's death has fully hit him yet, but Sue is struggling in the meantime.

"She keeps screaming, 'I want you back,'" Tim said. "People have told her, 'Just take one day at a time,' but she's tired of hearing that."

Sue said Enriquez would call her every day.

"All his friends would say to me, 'I was his best friend,'" Sue said. "I never knew anybody in the world who had so many best friends. I feel like he was my best friend, too."

Sue said she had already started saving her pennies for Enriquez's law school tuition.

"He and his cousins used to joke about having a firm called Enriquez, Enriquez, Enriquez and Enriquez," she said, breaking into laughter.

After a long pause, Sue cried again, saying, "I guess he'll never be a part of that."

In a few weeks, Sue said she and Tim will go to Gainesville to clean out Enriquez's apartment.

It's too soon to think about how difficult that will be, she said.

Lessons left behind

According to UF President Bernie Machen, Andrew Enriquez died with an armband from a bar on his wrist and a forged ID in his pocket.

Machen said cases like this encourage him to continue his fight against underage drinking.

Tim said he hasn't seen Andy's toxicology reports, which aren't yet available. He's not sure he wants to.

One thing he does know is students need to take care of themselves. Whether they have been drinking or are just tired, they should be careful behind the wheel, he said.

"Your body can only handle so much," he said. "Studying is very hard, and students are under a lot of pressure. You can drink, but, my gosh, you've got to get your rest."

Twenty full years

Enriquez's cousin, Danny Enriquez, said remembering Andy's good qualities brings comfort, but it doesn't bring him back.

"That's where it hurts," Danny said. "We're greedy. We want more and more and more of him here with us. We want more laughs and more smiles."

Despite tragedy, Danny said he thinks Enriquez led a fulfilling life.

"It's the worst thing that's ever happened to any of us, but the way he lived his life brought a lot of peace," he said. "If he had known he'd only have 20 years to live, he probably wouldn't have done anything differently."

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