Community Mourns Death of Mom, Baby Celebrating First Communion in Suspected DUI in Livermore

Friends, family and strangers came out in droves to leave flowers, candles and notes of love to a mother and her 14-month-old baby girl killed in Livermore over the weekend by a suspected drunk driver who jumped a sidewalk and plowed into a family's backyard First Communion celebration. 

A vigil held late Monday to remember the mother and her daughter — identified by friends as Esperanza Morales, 40, and baby Juli of Seaside, Monterey County — featured not only calls for forgiveness, but also a plea for much harsher treatment of the driver.

"He took two lives and I hope that haunts him forever because it's going to haunt me forever," family member Rosa Morales said, referring to Livermore-resident Brian Jones.

Livermore police said the 35-year-old Jones, who allegedly was drunk and speeding, lost control of his car and ran Morales and her baby down before smashing into several patios. He also injured two more children before coming to a stop, according to police.

Rosa Morales partially blames herself for the tragedy because relatives had gathered at her family's apartment to celebrate her 19th birthday and a Catholic family member's First Communion.

Simon Martinez, a relative of the victims, has created a GoFundMe page for the mother and her daughter  to help pay funeral costs. As of late Monday morning, the fund had reached nearly $17,000 out of a $20,000 goal.

The money will help transport their bodies to Mexico, Martinez said. Most of the notes at the impromptu memorial were written in Spanish. Some read "Rip Angel," and "Rip Baby + Mama." 

Esperanza Morales leaves behind a 45-year-old husband, a 10-year-old son and 22-year-old daughter.

Martinez wrote on the page that he and other relatives were at the family gathering on Saturday just before 7 p.m.when a driver speeding at 80 mph lost control on Murrieta Boulevard, hit the mother and daughter who were walking on the sidewalk then smashed into a back patio, injuring two boys, 6 and 7, who were also at the party. Those boys have been treated and released from the hospital.

Police subsequently arrested Jones on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury. He was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette at the time and had attended the nearby Wine Country Festival earlier in the day, police said.

Preliminary tests indicate that Jones was driving with a 0.13 percent blood-alcohol content or higher, which is nearly twice the legal limit, according to Officer Ryan Sanchez. The shattered Corvette rammed into the side of a house, and was left for a time in a mangled heap.

Jones has posted his $350,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.

"It's not fair that he survived and my family didn't," Rosa Morales said.

Neighbor Cammi Sison told NBC Bay Area she heard the screeching on the residential street.

"It wasn't wasn't just regular screeching," she said. "It was way too long." 

Then the crash occurred. "That was when I saw her," Sison said, breaking down into tears.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has additional information about the events that led up to the fatal incident is asked to contact the Livermore Police Department at 925-371-4777.

NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney, Stephanie Chuang and Bay City News contributed to this report.

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