BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It was roughly 3 1/2 years ago when Esteban Valdez Gutierrez ran from the scene after driving drunk and colliding with another vehicle. He passed the other driver’s car as he fled, not stopping to offer aid to the badly wounded woman inside.
In a sense, he’s still running.
Gutierrez failed to attend his sentencing hearing Thursday after pleading no contest earlier this year to felony DUI and hit-and-run charges. The court waited 45 minutes without Gutierrez making an appearance or responding to calls from his attorney.
Judge Judith K. Dulcich then issued a no-bail warrant for his arrest.
Before ending the hearing, the court heard from the father of Jourdan Bacot, who was 23 years old and in her second year of college at the time Gutierrez broadsided her car. She spent days in a coma followed by years of intensive therapy and continues to require around-the-clock care.
Kenneth Farnsworth said it’s difficult to put into words the enormity of what’s befallen his daughter. He said the crash caused an “ongoing ache of pain in a portion of our hearts that I had no idea even existed.”
Bacot wasn’t a troubled teen. She only wanted to get good grades and play drums in the school band and at church services, her father said.
She was studying to become an alcohol and drug counselor. In an ironic twist, she ended up permanently disabled by one of those people she wanted so much to help, Farnsworth said.
Bacot attended the hearing in a wheelchair. Farnsworth spoke with emotion as he told the court she can no longer talk, walk, feed, bathe or use the bathroom. He and his wife pray for healing, and for one day to hear Bacot’s voice again or for her to show some sort of reaction, no matter how small.
Farnsworth said there is no closure as his daughter will continue to require constant care.
The crash that injured Bacot occurred the morning of Dec. 1, 2016. Gutierrez ran a red light as he drove south on Calloway drive and broadsided Bacot’s car as she turned into the parking lot of Riverlakes Community Church, where she was headed to lead a Bible study class.
Gutierrez ran from his pickup and was arrested shortly afterward.
The defendant, who court records say goes by the nickname “Psycho,” has prior convictions for possession of drugs or alcohol while an inmate, driving without a license and drunk and disorderly conduct.