WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Several hundred California Highway Patrol officers, academy recruits and family members gathered in a courtyard at the CHP Headquarters in West Sacramento Wednesday to bid farewell to an officer who died in a collision with a suspected drunk driver.
Officer Andrew Camilleri, 33, died early Christmas morning of injuries he suffered when a speeding red Cadillac hit the back of a patrol vehicle as it was parked on DUI enforcement duty along Highway 880 near Hayward.
A fellow officer — Jonathan Velasquez — who was also in the patrol car suffered minor injuries and was released from the hospital shortly after the crash.
The suspected drunk driver — a 22-year-old Hayward man — remained hospitalized with major injuries. His identity will not be released until he is well enough to be taken into CHP custody.
Camilleri’s commanding officer — Captain Tim Pearson — fought back tears as he talked with reporters before the ceremony.
“I’ve told a number of people that the circumstances are horrible in which we have to be here,” he said. “But to provide this for the family is an absolute honor. This is a very difficult time for the family, the extended family of the department, myself and my command in Hayward. We’re dealing with it, we are grieving.”
Camilleri is survived by his wife Rosanna, three children; 12, 6 and 2 years old; his parents, a brother and sister. He had been with the CHP for a little over a year.
“Andrew has an amazing family,” Pearson said. “His wife is providing a tremendous amount of strength for us when it really should be the other way.”
Pearson said Camilleri “joined the Highway Patrol because of his integrity, his commitment, his desire. He wanted to serve and give back to his community. it was a passion of his.”
He loved being a CHP officer.
“In talking with his wife, Roxie, every time I talk with her, she tells me how much he liked his job,” Pearson said.
The somber ceremony that followed is call “The Last Watch.” The officer’s first day with the force is announced and then it ends with the time of his death and a toll of a bell marking the end of his watch.