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Pregnant woman killed by alleged DUI driver gives birth to 'miracle' baby

The mom-to-be was six weeks away from her due date when she was struck by an SUV while on a walk.
/ Source: TODAY

When James Alvarez thinks about the last conversation he had with his pregnant wife, Yesenia Aguilar, he feels bittersweet that it was about something so simple as curtain rods.

“We were on our evening walk and she was like, ‘So, do you think single or double rods would work better?’” Alvarez told TODAY Parents.

James Alvarez and Yesenia Aguilar were walking in Anaheim, California, on Aug. 11, 2020, when an alleged DUI motorist struck and killed Aguilar. Courtesy James Alvarez

Seconds later, Aguilar, 23, was fighting for her life on an Anaheim, California, sidewalk after a motorist suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, lost control of her SUV.

"By the time we saw the car coming towards us, it was too late," Alvarez revealed. "I remember looking at my wife laying there and thinking ’This is a nightmare. Let me wake up. Please let me wake up now.'"

Alvarez performed CPR on Aguilar before she was rushed to UCI Medical Center, where she died from her injuries. At the time of her 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 August 11. Though the newborn remains in the neonatal intensive care unit, Alvarez said she is now breathing on her own and he was able to hold her for the first time on Monday.

James Alvarez did skin-to-skin with his "miracle" baby Adalyn Rose, who survived the crash. Courtesy James Alvarez

“My daughter’s birthday is the same day I lost my wife and that just tears me up,” Alvarez said.

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.

“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,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer 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.”

Suspected DUI Courtney Fritz Pandolfi.
James Alvarez and his wife, Yesenia Aguilar, who was 35 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.Courtesy James Alvarez

Alvarez and family members will celebrate Aguilar's life at a small private funeral on Wednesday. Aguilar who Alvarez describes as the "happiest and most loving woman" worked as a cast member at Disneyland but was studying to become a cosmetologist.

“There are no words for how much I miss my wife. She was my world,” Alvarez told TODAY Parents. “But I have to be strong for our daughter, she's a miracle. I have to keeping fight for her."