Jacqueline Jimenez awoke early Friday to the sound of her phone ringing. Her sister was on the line, and it took Jimenez a moment to process what she said.
A good friend had died.
“It was a shock to me,” Jimenez said of the death of 22-year-old Princess Flores Almonidovar. “I didn’t think it was real.”
Jimenez was one of the dozens mourning the death of Almonidovar, who police said was killed on impact after a 24-year-old man suspected of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol collided with her car in southwest Bakersfield.
Friends at a candlelight vigil held at the southwest corner of the intersection Friday evening cried and shared stories about Almonidovar. They described her as positive, musically gifted and dedicated to her faith.
“You never frowned when you were around her,” said Buddy Everidge, who’d known Almonidovar since fourth grade at Fairfax Middle School.
He said she was always optimistic.
The coroner’s office said Almonidovar died at the scene of the 3:05 a.m. crash at the intersection of Ming Avenue and New Stine Road. The intersection remained closed until 2 p.m. Friday.
“Heaven got one of the best angels it will ever get,” Julio Flores wrote on Almonidovar’s Facebook page, which was covered with other messages regarding her death. “RIP Princess Almonidovar you always be missed and loved.”
Brenda Victoria Martinez wrote, “Princess Almonidovar I thank you for the countless memories we shared. You were such an amazing soul. You will never be forgotten my love with such a beautiful smile. One day we will hoop again together. RIP.”
Almonidovar was a San Joaquin Community Hospital employee, said hospital spokesman Jimmy Phillips.
“This morning, we were deeply saddened to learn about the death of Princess Almonidovar, a respiratory therapist at San Joaquin Community Hospital for the past 18 months,” said a written statement released by the hospital late Friday morning. “Although she worked at our hospital for just a short time, Princess was loved by her co-workers and a shining example for young people working toward a career in health care. She will be missed by everyone here at San Joaquin Community Hospital. During this difficult time, we extend our thoughts and prayers to Princess’ family and friends as they deal with the full force of this tragedy.”
Almonidovar studied at San Joaquin Valley College and attended Foothill High School, according to her Facebook page.
Police said suspected drunken driver Alex Rubio was speeding at the time of the crash. He ran from his wrecked vehicle into a nearby neighborhood, police said.
Officers arrested Rubio on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, felony hit and run, felony vehicular manslaughter and resisting arrest.
He was taken to Kern Medical Center for medical clearance before he was booked. Court records show Rubio had a bench warrant out for his arrest after failing to show for a hearing on misdemeanor charges of spousal abuse and petty theft.
Rubio declined an interview request from jail.
The more than 100 people at the vigil focused on the goodness of Almonidovar and the emptiness they’re feeling at her death. Some talked about how they’d seen her recently and can’t believe she’s gone.
Adrianna Alaniz only met Almonidovar this past October, but in that short time she had already made an impact on Alaniz’s life. Alaniz said Almonidovar encouraged her in many aspects of her life, and was a strong believer in Jesus Christ.
Looking over the crowd that attended the vigil, Everidge said it’s what he expected.
“If everyone who knew her could have made it the whole block would be filled,” he said.