A California Highway Patrol officer was killed on Christmas Eve when a suspected drunk driver crashed his car into the officer’s patrol vehicle, which was parked on the side of Interstate 880 in Hayward, CHP officials said.
Andrew Camilleri, 33, was married and had three children who expected their father to come home and help them open Christmas presents, said Asst. Chief Ernest Sanchez at a news conference Monday morning.
“We come to you with broken hearts and also anger — not just because we’ve lost one of our own,” Sanchez said. “The number of fatalities we’ve had in the Bay Area, just in the last couple of weeks involving people who have chosen to drive under the influence of alcohol and are suspected of marijuana use — you’ll find too many tragedies have happened.”
Camilleri and his partner, Jonathan Velasquez, had stopped their patrol SUV on the right shoulder of the highway, southbound near the Winton Avenue exit, to monitor traffic using a radar gun and other equipment.
At around 11:30 p.m., a red Cadillac hit the CHP vehicle from behind at high speed, Sanchez said.
The impact was so violent that the SUV was crushed to the size of a small compact vehicle. The 22-year-old driver, who is from Hayward, is suspected of smoking marijuana as well as drinking alcohol before the crash, Sanchez said.
Velasquez, who was sitting in the driver’s seat, was injured and later released from the hospital. Camilleri, who was in the right front seat, died at the hospital. Both officers were wearing seat belts.
The driver of the Cadillac is in serious condition at a hospital. CHP officials will not release his name until he is in their custody, Sanchez said.
Sanchez said the driver was coming home from a party, where “he had obviously had too much to drink and maybe too much to smoke.” There is enough evidence to book him with “some very serious felony charges” after he leaves the hospital, Sanchez said.
Camilleri had been with the CHP for a year and four months.
“Today, we lost not only a hero, but a son, a brother, a husband and a father to a senseless act and an irresponsible decision,” said Capt. Tim Pearson, who commands the CHP’s Hayward area office. “Andrew was drawn to this profession due to his courage, integrity and desire to serve. Andrew was a great man who loved his job and loved his family.”
Sanchez urged people not to drink and drive on New Year’s Eve.
“The holidays have just started. We have a very big holiday coming up that involves more alcoholic beverages,” he said. “Let’s make it a safe rest of the year.”
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