CHP officer killed on Christmas Eve in suspected DUI gave 'ultimate sacrifice'
HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - California Highway Patrol officers across the state arrested more than 790 people for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol over the Christmas holiday weekend.
One of those suspected of DUI is a 22-year-old Hayward man accused of being high and drunk when he killed CHP officer Andrew Camilleri Sr., who was working on Christmas Eve with his partner, Officer Jonathan Velasquez. The two were out on a holiday maximum enforcement patrol, ironically, to protect the Bay Area roads from unsafe drivers.
The 33-year-old Tracy father of three chose to work the holiday. He enrolled in the CHP Academy last year and graduated March 3. Previously, he had said he worked at Mission City Church in Tracy, where the church had posted a link to help make donations to his family on Tuesday morning.
“I think all of us woke up Christmas morning expecting to have that time with our families and celebrate the birth of Christ." said Michael Serrato, Pastor at Mission City Church. "Next thing you know, you’re mourning the deepest tragedy life has.”
Camilleri and his wife, Roxy, attended the church for over seven years where they had served in the youth ministry and contributed to virtually all angles. Serrato describes Camilleri as an inspiration and "a selfless dad who would do anything for his kids."
Lauriux Lopez, Officer Camilleri's sister in law told us she waited until after his kids opened presents to tell his children that their father had died.
"This is my brother in law. You are so right my sister had to hold a brave face to be able to unwrap gifts without telling her babies," Lopez said.
His "children were expecting their father to come home and help open Christmas presents,” CHP Golden Gate Division Asst. Chief Ernie Sanchez said at a news conference. On Facebook, Sanchez wrote that Camilleri gave the "ultimate sacrifice."
Sanchez said he was "angered" that he had to notify a wife and three children that Camilleri would not be home for Christmas because of someone who chose to make an "irresponsible" decision.
The officers’ SUV was parked on the shoulder of I-880 near State Highway 92 in Hayward late Sunday night as they patrolled for dangerous drivers. Camilleri was in the front passenger seat, and Velasquez was behind the wheel.
A red Cadillac sedan slammed into their car and was driving so fast on Sunday about 11:20 p.m. that the impact crushed the SUV into “a very small compact vehicle,” Sanchez said.
CHP said Officer Camilleri died at approximately 11:32 p.m.
The crash shut down all southbound lanes on I-880 until 9:40 a.m. Monday.
Investigators believe the young driver was drunk and high when he left a party and got on the road. "He had obviously too much to drink and maybe too much to smoke," Sanchez said.
On Tuesday morning, authorities had not released his name. The CHP said he’s in serious condition and they may release his identity when he stabilizes. Sanchez said he has enough evidence to charge the suspect with several felonies when he gets out of the hospital. Officers were sent to his bedside to arrest him as soon as he had recovered enough to leave, Sanchez said.
Velasquez suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from Eden Medical Center, Sanchez said. “He will live with this tragedy of his seeing his partner die,” he said.
Between 2010 and 2016, the number of fatal crashes in the Bay Area increased 43 percent with speed, unsafe turning, and driving under the influence the top three contributors, according to an analysis by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.