TODAY interview: Dad brings home baby born after mom killed by DUI driver

"It's a miracle she survived," the first-time father said.
/ Source: TODAY
By Rachel Paula Abrahamson

James Alvarez should be tag-teaming overnight feedings with his wife, Yesenia Aguilar.

But the aspiring makeup artist was killed last month in Anaheim, California, after a motorist who was driving under the influence of drugs lost control of her SUV.

At the time of Aguilar’s death, she was 35 weeks pregnant.

Doctors were able to save the couple’s daughter, Adalyn Rose, who was delivered after an emergency C-section on Aug. 11.

“It’s a miracle that she survived after what she went through,” Alvarez, 36, told TODAY Parents. “Her entire medical team has been blown away by her strength.”

On Monday, 3-week-old Adalyn was discharged from UCI Medical Center. For Alvarez, the milestone was bittersweet.

"I miss my wife," Alvarez explained. "She should be here with us. She should be here for all the beautiful moments."

James Alvarez and Yesenia Aguilar were walking in Anaheim, California, on Aug. 11, 2020, when an alleged DUI motorist struck and killed Aguilar. She was 35 weeks pregnant at the time.Courtesy James Alvarez

Alvarez said he finds comfort in the regular conversations he still has with his late wife.

“I ask her to give me strength and to guide me to best the best father that I can be. She would have been so good at this,” Alvarez revealed. “She would know exactly what to do in every situation.”

Courtney Fritz Pandolfi, 40, was charged with murder in the death of Aguilar. According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Pandolfi had three prior DUI convictions.

“I’m hoping she never gets parole,” Alvarez told TODAY Parents. “I want her to feel the pain I feel. I want her every single day to think about the beautiful life she took and how she destroyed a family. I hope it eats her apart.”

James Alvarez holds his baby girl, Adalyn Rose.Courtesy James Alvarez

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he feels the same way.

"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 smile or hearing her voice,” Spitzer previously told TODAY Parents in a written statement. “This was 100 percent preventable. This woman knew the consequences of driving under the influence and she did it anyway.”

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