ANAHEIM, Calif. (KTLA) – The newborn baby of a pregnant woman who was fatally struck by a car on a California sidewalk earlier this month went home with her dad on Monday.
The mother, 23-year-old Yesenia Aguilar, who was 35 weeks pregnant, was out for an evening walk with her husband on Aug. 12 when she was hit by an SUV driver charged with being impaired. She was rushed to the hospital, where she died.
Doctors delivered her baby girl via Cesarean section. The newborn, named Adalyn Rose, was initially placed in the neonatal intensive care unit at UC Irvine Medical Center.
In the nearly three weeks since then, she’s made substantial progress and was ready to go home Monday.
Nurses lined the hallway of the hospital and cheered as James Alvarez carried his daughter out for the first time.
“Thank you so much for taking care of her and her well being,” he said to the nearly dozen nurses. “She fought hard but you assisted and I’m truly thankful.”
Alvarez said he’s excited to bring home his baby and bond with her. He says he’s even prepared for the sleepless nights ahead.
“She’s so easygoing, doesn’t cry,” he said. “Just a great baby.”
Alvarez said having her home will help him heal from the loss of his wife.
“It’s going to help me move forward, give me the motivation that I need,” said Alvarez, who wore a face mask that featured a photo of his wife. “I have my down moments, but knowing that … my daughter is with me 24/7 is definitely gonna be a reminder to keep going forward for my wife.”
He shared a video of his daughter finally sleeping in her crib in her own home for the first time.
“You’re home baby … you’re finally home,” he said to his sleeping baby. “I love you my little love monkey … We’re gonna spend so much time together.”
Alvarez previously said the couple had tried for two years to conceive, and that Aguilar had been excited to become a mother.
“I definitely want to make her proud,” he said Monday. “I want to make her proud and be the best father that I can possibly be.”
The driver, 40-year-old Courtney Pandolfi, has been charged with murder and driving under the influence of drugs causing injury. Pandolfi had prior convictions of driving under the influence of drugs in 2008, 2015 and 2016, and was driving on a suspended license, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
She could spend the rest of her life behind bars if convicted as charged.
“Justice needs to be served,” Alvarez said. “I was taken away from my wife. She was too young, and she had so much life in front of her. We had so many goals, we wanted to buy a house one day, and that was taken in a second like that. In a second, my whole life changed. And I’m constantly living with that pain.”
He added, “She deserves to be in that jail, constantly reminded of what she took from me.”