Anaheim

Driver Charged With Murder in Suspected DUI Crash That Killed Pregnant Woman

"She’s gone. She’s gone in a second," the victim's husband James Alvarez said.

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The 40-year-old driver accused of crashing into a woman who was 35 weeks pregnant as she walked with her husband on an Anaheim street has been charged with one felony count of murder Thursday, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

The couple's baby, who had to be delivered in an emergency c-section after the suspected DUI crash, was still hospitalized.

The victim, 23-year old Yesenia Aguilar, died at the hospital following the wreck.

Courtney Fritz Pandolfi, 40, of Garden Grove, who according to DMV records had previous DUIs, was also charged one felony count of driving under the influence of drugs causing injury, and one misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license. If convicted as charged, she faces a maximum life sentence.

“This is beyond shocking and it is absolutely reprehensible. There is no reason why a 23-year-old mother is dead and her daughter will grow up without ever seeing her mother’s smile or hearing her voice,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “This was 100% preventable. This woman knew the consequences of driving under the influence and she did it anyway. As a member of the State Assembly, I authored the Steve Ambriz Act to be able to charge impaired drivers with murder. The ultimate goal is to prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired and causing these senseless deaths because they understand the consequences of being charged with murder and a life sentence. This was not an accident. It was a choice – and it was a deadly one.”

The husband who lost his wife shares the emotional pain of losing his wife. Hetty Chang reported on NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.

Alvarez said he was living a nightmare after the crash, and said he remembered some but not all of what led up to the crash as they walked at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on Katella Avenue, near Bayless Street.

"As we turn around, we see the car losing control and it wasn’t stopping," he said.

He heard squealing, shouting and then he instinctively tried to hold on to his pregnant wife.

The baby was in critical condition. As seen on NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

"I tried to dodge it, and tried to grab her hand and I lost my grip," he said through tears.

She was about six weeks away from giving birth to their baby girl, Adalyn Rose. Instead the baby was delivered in an emergency cesarean section. She remains in intensive care.

"I'm just praying to God right now. She’s the only one I have left of her, of my wife," Alvarez said.

Anaheim police
The Jeep driver, identified by police as Courtney Pandolfi, was also taken to UCI Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries prior to her arrest on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, DUI and driving on a suspended license, Carringer said.

Pandolfi's criminal history goes back at least 20 years, according to documents obtained by NBCLA. She has been sentenced numerous times to prison but always had her sentence stayed. According to the DMV, her license was suspended in 2016.

Alvarez said the route they were walking Tuesday night was not the route he and his wife would normally take. They decided to go the long way Tuesday night so they could stop and buy curtains for the nursery .

Back in May, there was a celebration when the couple revealed they’d be having a girl -- the first in a family filled with boys.

Now the entire Alvarez family is in shock. The family wept at the site of the crash, where candles and flowers now lay.

"I'm living a nightmare. I just want to wake up. I just want to wake up but it's not," Alvarez said. "She’s gone. She’s gone in a second."

Alvarez says the worst part is that his wife, who so wanted to meet her first child, never will.

He watches his baby on a livestream on his phone, set up at the hospital.

James Alvarez

Any witnesses were asked to call Anaheim police at 714-765-1474.

A GoFundMe created by Alvarez will help with medical expenses as well as Aguilar's funeral.

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