Friends say becoming a CHP officer was 'a dream' for fallen cop

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On Christmas Eve Officer Andrew Camilleri was on the side of Interstate 880 on the lookout for dangerous drivers, when the CHP says one of those drivers slammed into his police SUV. Tuesday afternoon his body was escorted back to his hometown of Tracey. (KGO-TV)

CHP Officer Andrew Camilleri died on Christmas Eve. He and his partner had pulled to the side of the road in Hayward on Interstate 880 near Highway 92 when their car was hit from behind.

RELATED: Procession for fallen CHP officer heads through Tracey

The suspect is still in the hospital-- and at last check, in serious condition. Investigators say he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and will face several felony charges.
His name has not been released.

Those who knew Camilleri best say becoming a CHP Officer was a life calling for him. Camilleri was well known at Mission City Church in Tracy long before he was an officer.

He played bass guitar on the worship team and ministered others including within the youth ministry. "Faith was the most important thing to Andrew," said Lead Pastor Doug Diestler.

In the more than seven years Camilleri, his wife, and children attended Mission City Church, the pastors say he had a calling he couldn't ignore. Eventually leaving his job in pest control to pursue his passion.

"He really followed his dream to become a CHP officer and it was more than a career it was a calling for him. He truly wanted to make a difference and really gave his life to that cause out there serving and protecting us," said Diestler.

RELATED: Procession honors fallen CHP officer

It was a choice that came with sacrifice, including time away from his family.

"I think that's what embodies Andrew when he felt something in life when he saw something worth pursuing that he did it and he did so without any reservation and pursued it with everything that he had," said Executive Pastor Michael Serrato.

Both pastors have no doubt Camilleri gave his life doing what he loved.

"He just had passion for life," said Diestler. CHP has not yet released the name of the 22-year-old driver they say slammed into Camilleri's patrol vehicle under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. Officer Camilleri was on a maximum enforcement patrol at the time looking for those under the influence.

RELATED: Driver accused of hitting, killing CHP officer suspected of being under influence of pot and alcohol

Friends of the 22-year-old driver tell ABC 7 News he is married and recently had a baby. "My heart goes out to him he's a young man with his whole life ahead of him as well," said Diestler.

While words are hard to come by, the pastors say hope and faith are more accessible. They've been visiting Camilleri's wife and children, lending support where they can.
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