An Anaheim man whose pregnant wife died after being struck by an alleged DUI driver right in front of him on Tuesday night is grieving her loss, saying that the newborn daughter the couple had longed for is all he has left right now.
In just one moment, James Alvarez said the life that he and his wife had been building together for years was destroyed.
“It’s like I’m living a nightmare and I’m hoping to wake up soon,” Alvarez told KTLA Wednesday, his voice shaking as he tried to fight back tears. “But I’m accepting the reality is she’s gone. And my daughter is the only thing that I have left.”
Alvarez is still trying to reconcile how the love of his life, 23-year-old Yesenia Aguilar, was taken away at such a momentous point in their lives.
It was just three months ago, at a gender reveal party, that the happy couple announced they were having a baby girl. The news came after the couple tried for two years to conceive, and they weren’t taking any chances.
Recently, they began taking evening walks, based on the advice of their doctor.
The couple was on one of those walks Tuesday evening on Katella Avenue near Bayless Street when Aguilar was struck by a woman with prior DUI arrests, who was allegedly under the influence of drugs at the time, according to the Anaheim Police Department.
“I was holding her hand. I was trying to pull her away towards me,” Alvarez tearfully recalled.
Aguilar, who was 35 weeks along in her pregnancy, did not survive. But medical personnel were able to deliver her baby girl.
Now the newborn, named Adalyn Rose, is fighting to survive. She’s in the NICU at UC Irvine Medical Center.
“I’m just praying that she is healthy. She’s the last thing I have from her,” Alvarez said.
Doctors were worried the infant could have brain damage, but wouldn’t know for about 72 hours, the father said.
His wife, he added, had been “so excited” to become a mother.
“We’ve been trying for two years, and finally we’re blessed to have a beautiful princess, and we’re a month away from her birth,” Alvarez said. “And all of a sudden, out of a second, my life changed.”
Police have arrested the woman they say was behind the wheel of the Jeep, 40-year-old Courtney Pandolfi of Garden Grove.
She was booked on suspicion of murder, DUI drugs causing bodily injury and driving on a suspended license, authorities said.
The suspect has two prior DUI arrests and could be charged with murder, according to police.
Pandolfi is being held at the Orange County Jail on $1 million bail.
Alvarez, meanwhile, has started a GoFundMe account to help pay for his wife’s funeral, medical costs and other unforeseeable events, according to the page.