Update: The victim has been IDed as Esmeralda Ramirez of Baldwin Park.

A churchgoer reportedly heading to St. John Baptist Church in Baldwin Park on Sunday morning was robbed of her young life when Rafael Espinoza Moreno, 27, who police believe was drunk, veered his Jeep up onto the sidewalk and hit the 24-year-old woman.

Witness Alex Hernandez told CBS2 last night that Moreno was trying to avoid another car that had just made a U-turn when he lost control of his vehicle.

It normally only took the woman one block to walk from her home to church, CBS2 reports. And at 2:30 p.m. yesterday, she was just steps from reaching afternoon mass, walking hand-in-hand with her boyfriend, according to witnesses.

Sergeant Ray Findley told City News Service that “the suspect lost control and struck the pedestrian. Then the vehicle hit a bus bench, and struck a structure.”

Remembered Hernandez, one of about 50 witnesses: “It was loud, really loud — like a bomb exploding.”

In what police believe to be a drunken attempt to escape punishment, Moreno ran a couple blocks from the accident scene and tried to hide in some bushes. That's where he was arrested, with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, cops said. His passenger in the Jeep tried to run too, but was weakened by his injuries, and quickly detained.

We'll update with the victim's identity when we've tracked it down. Anybody out there know her, or witness her tragic death? Please let us know.


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