A large group of family and friends gather at 8th Street and Euclid Avenue Tuesday evening where Long Beach resident Bridget Ingham was fatally struck by a drunk driver. Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
To know her was to love her.
If it wasn’t apparent how much 49-year-old Long Beach resident Bridget Ingham was loved, then the crowd of more than 50 people who stopped by a makeshift memorial in her honor Tuesday evening to share countless heartfelt memories, surely put it into perspective.
Ingham’s life was cut short Saturday night when a suspected drunk driver struck her car on 8th Street and Euclid Avenue. She later died at a local hospital.
According to a group of her childhood friends, Ingham was on her way to hang out with one of them, who lived only a few doors down from the site of the crash. When a neighbor told her a Honda Fit was involved in a crash, the friend rushed to the scene where she discovered Ingham.
Three days after the fatal incident, that tight-knit group of women who have been friends for up to 37 years, gathered at the site to remember Ingham.
Surrounded by a close-knit group of friends, Pamela Rivera (center) holds a photo of Bridget Ingham, killed by a drunk driver over the weekend.
“She was everything to me and she was like my life coach, my rock,” said one of those friends, Pamela Rivera of Long Beach. “She was genuine, she didn’t have any hidden agenda, she was kind.”
Rivera still remembers the first time she met Ingham when they were 11 years old. Rivera had just moved to Long Beach from Minnesota while Ingham and her family came here from Chicago.
“She came up to me and she said ‘Is that Angel Fire perfume by Mary Kay?’ and I turn around and I said ‘Yeah’, and she was like ‘Oh, I really like that!’ and we’ve been friends ever since and sisters,” Rivera said.
But it wasn’t only her childhood friends who mourned her loss Tuesday. Dozens of people from her yoga community, where she was first a student and then a teacher for nearly 20 years, expressed the shock they felt upon hearing about her death.
“If she were here she would tell us all to breathe,” said one woman who knew Ingham for 15 years. “Stand up straight and breathe.”
Ingham was passionate about yoga, said her mother Pat Bauerkemper. The Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) alumni graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, focusing on dance.
“She was really good at teaching and she loved doing it and it was her passion,” her mother said. “She always was into dance and then yoga and always into health.”
Most recently, Ingham was a certified Yoga Tune Up teacher at the now closed Yoga World studio in Long Beach.
When she wasn’t teaching yoga, Ingham also worked as a bartender at the Seal Beach-based O’Malley’s on Main, first in a full-time capacity and then only occasionally for nearly 20 years.
“She was a person who bonded everybody,” said the irish pub’s former owner Brian Kyle. “Seeing old O’Malley’s employees here and managers, people that have worked for 18 to 20 years at the place. It’s really hard, she was like one of the family.”
Kyle said Ingham would drag him to dances he had no interest in, but she was proud of, so he went to support her. He most recently talked to her last week during which she discussed the next chapter in her life.
Her mom and childhood friends said she had just secured at job at AAA where she was scheduled to start February 15.
Bauerkemper said she has been overwhelmed with the number of people impacted by Ingham.
“You don’t have friends like this when you’re not a good person,” Bauerkemper said. “All these people, some who I don’t know know at all, come to me and tell me how sorry they are and how they knew her and loved her. I’ve never seen so much love come out.”
A YouCaring account set up to help cover funeral costs has so far raised nearly twice the amount of funds requested.