Authorities believe an intoxicated 22-year-old – suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and marijuana – was headed home from a party when he drifted into the right shoulder and hit the officers’ parked vehicle from behind, according to CHP Assistant Chief Ernest Sanchez.
Two officers on a routine CHP patrol on Christmas Eve were inside the vehicle at the time, he said. Both had seatbelts on.
Investigators believe the man’s car was traveling at a high rate of speed when he crashed into the SUV, causing significant damage and leaving the CHP vehicle a crumpled pile of metal.
“The impact was so severe that it turned a utility vehicle into a compact vehicle,” Sanchez said at a Christmas morning news conference. “So it kind of gives you an idea of the speeds that were involved in this accident.”
All three suffered injuries and were rushed by ambulances to local hospitals.
CHP confirmed Monday morning that one of the officers had died of his injuries.
Authorities identified him as 33-year-old Officer Andrew Camilleri Sr.
Camilleri is survived by his wife, three children – a daughter and two sons, all between the ages of 2 and 12 years old – his parents, and two siblings.
His children “were expecting (their) father to come home and help open Christmas presents. But instead, he chose to work today,” Sanchez said. He described the slain officer as a “hero now and forever.”
Flags at the Capitol will be flown at half-staff in the fallen officer’s honor, according to a statement from Gov. Jerry Brown.
“Anne and I are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Officer Camilleri, who died yesterday while working to keep our communities safe. We join his family, friends and the entire California Highway Patrol in mourning his death and in honoring his sacrifice,” the statement read.
The second officer suffered minor injuries. He was treated at a hospital and has since been released.
The 22-year-old driver, identified only as a Hayward resident, was hospitalized with major injuries and is expected to face felony charges, officials said.
DUI driver plowed into CHP patrol car and killed Officer Andrew Camilleri and injured Officer Jonathan Velasquez on Christmas Eve
HAYWARD — Rookie CHP officer Andrew Camilleri Sr. had dreamed of wearing the uniform since high school and was working his first Christmas Eve shift, trying to the keep the roads safe from intoxicated drivers. But he couldn’t save himself when, just before midnight, a suspected drunken driver drifted off Interstate 880 and slammed into the back of his patrol car.
The crash crushed the officer’s SUV, injuring Camilleri’s fellow officer Jonathan Velasquez and killing Camilleri as his three children slept at home in Tracy. On Christmas morning, his wife Rosanna was still struggling with how to break the awful news.
“They were going to open their Christmas presents first before Rosanna tells them,” Andrew’s mother, Sharon Camilleri, said through tears Monday morning.
Andrew Camilleri was 33 and had only graduated from the CHP Academy in March, his mother said. MORE