A man in his mid-20s was fatally struck by a suspected drunk driver in old north Sacramento while driving home from work shortly after midnight Saturday.
Zocalo employees confirmed the victim was Antonio Navarrete, who had tended bar at The UV shopping center restaurant near Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue before his death Saturday morning.
Navarrete had locked up after Zocalo closed at 11 p.m. Friday, then headed home in the car he shared with his mother, Irma, manager Jewel Carbone said. He was driving through the El Camino Avenue-Evergreen Street intersection four miles from work around 12:30 a.m. when his vehicle was T-boned by 38-year-old Xoury Soukouang, according to the Sacramento Police Department.
Sacramento Fire Department personnel found Navarrete unconscious and trapped in the driver's seat when they arrived at the scene, and pronounced him dead shortly thereafter. Soukouang was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter, and treated at an area hospital for minor injuries suffered in the crash.
Soukouang remained in Sacramento County jail in lieu of $350,000 bond as of Monday afternoon. He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and corporal injury to spouse in 2009, but avoided jail time after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor brandishing charge, according to Sacramento Superior Court records.
Irma and Antonio Navarrete had immigrated together from Mexico several years ago, Carbone said. He began working at the midtown Zocalo more than six years ago before moving to The UV when the restaurant opened there in January.
"He was the light of everyone's life here. He's a huge, huge loss in the bar," Carbone said. "He touched everyone and had a huge smile you could see from a mile away. Just a very gentle person."
All three Zocalo locations will serve a flavored margarita called "Sonreír," Spanish for "smile," for the next week in memory of Navarrete's toothy grin. Proceeds from the drink's sales will benefit his family.
A GoFundMe page established to raise money for Navarrete's family had raised nearly $1,500 as of Monday afternoon.
Benjy Egel: (916) 321-1052, @BenjyEgel