HAYWARD (KPIX 5) — An emotional vigil Monday night, held almost a year after a fallen CHP officer’s tragic death on the job, sent a message to drivers this holiday season.
Last Christmas Eve, CHP Officer Andrew Camilleri died in the line of duty. Monday night, Camilleri’s family and fellow California Highway Patrol officers gathered for a tearful remembrance outside the Hayward CHP office.
The vigil was held to send a message about not driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but they also hoped to continue to heal the wounds from this tragic loss.
Roxy Camilleri shared her memories of her late husband.
“I miss the imperfections. I miss the perfect heart he had; the willingness to go without so somebody else could have what they wanted,” she said. “He had a way of making my worst days better and my better days great.”
With the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaching, she noted the birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and first day of school he has missed in the past year.
It was last Christmas Eve around 11:30 p.m. when Camilleri was parked on the side of the road of Highway 880. Another car slammed into his SUV, injuring his partner.
Jonathan Velasquez survived but Camilleri wasn’t as lucky. Sharon Camilleri, his mother, hopes that her speaking out will spare at least one parent from losing their child.
“I wouldn’t want another parent to feel what this feels like to lose a child. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. It really changes you,” she said.
Camilleri left behind his parents, his wife and three children –a daughter and two sons. Children that remind Roxy Camilleri of her husband everyday.
The CHP say Camilleri was hit by a driver who was under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana. Since pot became legal, the CHP reports a 128 percent increase in accidents where the drug was a factor.
Camilleri made it his mission to take as many of those impaired drivers off the road as possible.
“We will never know how many lives we save, but by going out and doing our jobs, we know we are saving lives. And Andrew did just that,” said CHP Captain Tim Pearson.
The 33-year-old Camilleri was on the job for just a year before the fatal crash. The driver, 23-year-old Mohammed Ali, is still awaiting sentencing in this case.