Alleged drunk driver in speeding car kills highway patrol officer

HAYWARD, California -- A California Highway Patrol officer died late Sunday night, and another was injured, when a speeding car drifted off the road and slammed into their stopped patrol car on the shoulder of southbound I-880.

Police say the 22-year-old man was drunk when he plowed his red Cadillac into the officers, and may have also been under the influence of marijuana. He could face felony charges when he's released from the hospital, they said.

"This is not the way we wanted to celebrate Christmas Day," Assistant Chief Ernest Sanchez told a gathering of reporters at the CHP's Hayward office.

Video: Officials identify CHP officer killed in crash on southbound I-880 in Hayward
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During a press conference, officials identified a CHP officer who was killed in a crash on southbound I-880 in Hayward late Sunday night as Ofc. Andrew Camilleri.

Sanchez identified the officer who was killed as Andrew Camilleri, 33 years old, of Tracy. He had been with the Highway Patrol for a year and four months before the accident that ended his life.

"The impact was so severe that it turned a utility vehicle into a very small compact vehicle," Sanchez said.

Camilleri and his partner, Jonathan Velasquez, were on a "maximum enforcement patrol" -- parked on the shoulder of I-880, looking for drivers who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Tragically, police say, that's exactly what they encountered.

The California Highway Patrol credit union has set up a fund to help the officer's family.

Both officers were belted into their seats when the patrol car was struck. Velasquez was in the driver's seat, and police say his seatbelt may have saved his life. He's been released from the hospital, but fellow officers say his deepest wounds are the kind you can't see.

"As you can imagine, he now will live with this tragedy of seeing his partner die," Sanchez said.

Camilleri worked out of the CHP's Hayward office, and lived in Tracy with the wife and three children he now leaves behind.

"Today we lost not only a hero, but a son a brother, husband, and a father," said Capt. Tim Pearson, the CHP commander for the Hayward area.

Officers said Camilleri had planned to come home and open presents with his kids on Christmas morning before his life was ended by a driver leaving a party on Christmas Eve.

"These irresponsible and senseless acts need to stop," Sanchez said.

Ofc. Camilleri's body remained at the Alameda County Coroner's Office on Christmas Day awaiting an autopsy, a sheriff's spokesperson said. Once the examination is complete, a police procession will escort the officer's body to a funeral home.

In honor of Camilleri, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

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