The City of Carrollton Police Department extends their condolences to the California Highway Patrol and the family of Officer Andrew Camilleri. Officer Camilleri was killed by a drunk and impaired driver on Christmas Eve 12-24-17.
HAYWARD — A California Highway Patrol officer was killed late Christmas Eve when a suspected drunken driver drifted off of Interstate 880 in Hayward and plowed into the back of the patrol car, according to the CHP.
Officer Andrew Camilleri leaves a wife and three children. He was 33 and had only been working for the CHP for a year and four months, said CHP Assistant Chief Ernest Sanchez. On Monday, while many families are celebrating the Christmas holiday, Sanchez said the department was mourning its fellow officer.
“Today is the tragic loss of one our own, who we will consider a hero now and forever,” Sanchez said.
Camilleri, seated in the front passenger side of a patrol car, and his partner, Officer Jonathan Velasquez, were parked along Interstate 800 near Highway 92, looking for dangerous drivers. Shortly before midnight, a red Cadillac drifted off the road and plowed into the back of the patrol car. Speed was a factor, Sanchez said, turning an SUV into “a very small compact vehicle.”
The 22-year-old driver was coming home from a party, and “obviously had too much to drink and too much to smoke,” he said. Officers believe he was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.
“Today, I’m not only disappointed but also angered in that I had to notify a mother and three children that their father had deceased at a local hospital after being impacted by a person who chose to drive irresponsibly,” Sanchez said. “That is the message today on Christmas Day: These irresponsible and senseless acts need to stop.”
The department has enough evidence and statements from witnesses to charge the driver of the Cadillac on felony charges, Sanchez said. His name will be released once he is treated at the hospital, where he is in serious condition.
Velasquez, also a young officer in the Hayward division, suffered minor injuries but has since been released from Eden Medical Center, where he was being treated, Sanchez said. While he’ll recover physically, Sanchez said Velasquez was shaken by the collision.
“He will live with this tragedy of his seeing his partner die,” he said.
For Camilleri, being a CHP was a calling, said Capt. Tim Pearson, commander of the CHP’s Hayward division.
“Andrew was drawn to this profession due to his courage, his integrity and his desire to serve,” Pearson said. “The consequences of this action affect the department statewide, but that pales in comparison to what his wife and three children now have to live with.”
Camilleri was also the latest victim in a growing number of fatal collisions involving drugs or alcohol, Sanchez 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.
All southbound lanes on I-880 were closed while CHP officers investigated the collision. The lanes reopened at 9:40 a.m.