TV "Bachelorette" EMILY MAYNARD's bright smile hides a never-ending heartache — she's devastated she didn't tell her fiancé RICKY HENDRICK she was pregnant before the NASCAR driver died in a fiery plane crash.
An exclusive ENQUIRER photo shows the dramatic moment when a 16-year-old Emily met Ricky, then 21, aboard a magnificent yacht in 2001. And they enjoyed a fairytale romance until Ricky's tragic death in October 2004.
Sadly, he went to his grave unaware he'd fathered a beautiful daughter that Emily named RICKI.
In a blockbuster ENQUIRER report, Ricky's close friend Heath Hodges tells the heartbreaking story about the star-crossed romance.
"Ricky and I were on the family's yacht, docked in Key West, and Emily walked by with some girlfriends," Heath told The ENQUIRER in an exclusive interview. "We invited them aboard, and it was love at first sight."
After Emily graduated high school, the NASCAR driver asked her to relocate to his home base in Charlotte, N.C., where he later proposed.
Heath added that Emily, now 26, planned to give Ricky the good news that she was pregnant on their last night together, but they wound up going out to a bar with some friends and she never got the chance.
The next day, Ricky died while en route to a race in Martinsville, Va. Emily was "devastated beyond belief," said Heath, but despite her shattered heart, she soldiered on and gave birth to daughter Josephine Riddick "Ricki" Hendrick on June 29, 2005.
Pick up this week's issue for more details and to see the photo!