She should have been blowing out the candles on her 27th birthday cake, celebrating her special day in style in the birthplace of samba.
Instead, New Zealand authorities are now seeking answers from Brazilian police about Wellington woman Rebeca Nathan's tragic death in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday (NZ time).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed Ms Nathan, originally from Lower Hutt, died in the Brazilian city. It is understood she was the victim of a traffic accident.
The former Sacred Heart College and Victoria University student had been travelling through central and South America as part of her OE, and was staying in Rio with a friend when she was killed.
Her family said through a spokeswoman yesterday that they were deeply saddened at the sudden death of their daughter, sister and friend.
"Bex will always be remembered for her enthusiasm, love for life and infectious smile. Bex has touched many lives and will be missed."
Plans were being made with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to bring Ms Nathan home, where she could be surrounded by friends, family and loved ones, the spokeswoman said.
She would have celebrated her 27th birthday yesterday.
Her mother, Vicki Nathan, posted on Facebook yesterday.
"My beautiful girl has left this world and left behind a family that is in shock and disbelief . . . our only solace at this time is that Bex is now flying with the angels."
Friends left messages of condolence on Ms Nathan's Facebook page, speaking of her contagious laugh, outgoing personality, and sense of fun and friendship.
"Rest in paradise Bex Nathan I will never forget your laugh so contagious . . . thinking of your family," Michala Morunga wrote.
And Nisha Kalidas said: "Absolutely stunning girl. Your all-round beauty has left a lasting impression. You will be sadly missed xx."
Others joked they had picked her for marrying an All Black when she returned to New Zealand.
A spokesman for the ministry said New Zealand consular staff in Sao Paulo were speaking to Rio de Janeiro police regarding the circumstances.
He would not provide any further details, other than to say the ministry was in touch with the family.
"The New Zealand consulate-general in Sao Paulo and the ministry are providing consular assistance."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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