HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - CHP Officer Andrew Camilleri's wife and three children received hugs and support at a candlelight vigil remembering his death while on duty last Christmas Eve, after his vehicle was crushed by a car whose driver has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.
Camilleri, 33, was a husband, father, son, colleague, loved and remembered Monday night at the vigil outside the CHP office where he'd worked in Hayward.
This holiday season is a painful reminder of the night he was killed.
"I miss the perfect heart he had, the willingness to go without so someone could have what they wanted. He had this way of making my worst days better and my better days great," said Roxy Camilleri, Andrew's wife.
"I just miss you know, just seeing him and talking to him on the phone, getting text messages. It's hard to believe it's been almost a year," said Sharon Camilleri, Andrew Camilleri's mother.
Camilleri was on patrol with his partner on Christmas Eve last year when a car going 120 miles an hour crushed their vehicle along I-880 near Hayward. The driver, Mohammed Ali, 22, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.
Camilleri was remembered nearly one year later. The Hayward CHP commander, Captain Tim Pearson, started with Andrew's wife, who then lit her children's candles.
That flame hen was passed from person to person through the crowd, as a friend sang a tribute song written for the family.
The light that Andrew Camilleri brought to each life, linked those who stood cradling each candle.
The crowd remembered Camilleri as a man who lived to save lives.
"We'll never know how many lives we save, but by going out to do our jobs, we know we save lives and Andrew did just that," said Captain Tim Pearson, the CHP Hayward Commander.
The black bands over the CHP badges served as a reminder of what can be lost in the holiday season.
"We are facing a 37 almost 40 percent increase at this time versus last year in terms of people who are colliding and being injured or injuring others while driving under the influence of marijuana," said Ernie Sanchez, Chief of the CHP Golden Gate Division.
A photo inside the station shows about 25 CHP officers from the Hayward office who traveled to Washington DC this year to honor Camilleri at the National Peace Officers Memorial Day ceremonies.
A quilt created by fellow officers' wives hangs in the hallway with Camilleri's name.
His colleagues say hi memory will be with them as they head out on the roads themselves for maximum enforcement efforts this holiday week.
"'We need to remember that it wasn't the holiday that took his life. It was someone's very poor choice of getting behind the wheel after they had been drinking and getting high. That's what took his life," said Roxy Camilleri.