OAKLAND -- An Oakland woman who died in a New Year's Day crash along Interstate 580 in Oakland has been identified as a minister who served the transgender religious community.
Bobbie Jean Baker, 49, of Oakland, was killed in the early morning crash just west of Park Boulevard, said a spokesman from the Alameda County coroner's office.
As a minister and a transgender woman herself, she worked with the transgender religious community and transgender women struggling to find their way.
"It's a big community loss. She (was) huge in the African-American transgender community and the community at large," said Tiffany Woods, the program coordinator at the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont, the only transgender program serving transgender women in Alameda County. "She was grooming the younger (generation) and mentoring them. Part of the work we are all doing is mentoring and teaching and training as much as she can."
Woods said Baker worked with transgender women struggling with substance abuse, homelessness and other issues.
"She went through struggles and found her calling by being a minister," Woods said.
Born in Memphis, TN, she moved to the Bay Area in 1992 and later became an ordained minister at the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco, friends said. She was the lead singer in the all-transgender group Transcendence Gospel Choir for a decade. She was apparently returning from a nighttime service when the crash happened.
Woods said employees at the center will attend her funeral on Saturday, but everyone is saddened by the horrific start to the new year.
The crash remains under investigation. When officers arrived on the scene, a Ford Expedition was on its roof on the Park Boulevard onramp to westbound Interstate 580, said California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Hill.
Baker was trapped in the front passenger seat, while the driver -- a 42-year-old Hercules man -- got out of the car and was not seriously injured, Hill said. The man was not identified.
Baker was pulled from the car but was pronounced dead at the scene, the coroner's spokesman said.
The driver of the Ford was tested for drunken driving, and officers determined he was not intoxicated.
A ceremony will be held in Baker's honor Saturday at 1 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, at 2501 Harrison St. Bishop Yvette Flunder from the City of Refuge United Church of Christ will officiate.