On Christmas Day, 14-year-old Andrew Nguyen was killed by a suspected drunk driver while traveling on a highway in San Jose, California. The driver, 25-year-old Jessica Zamora, also lost her life that day, leaving behind a 5-year-old daughter.
The tragedy has sent shockwaves through the community as family, friends, teachers, classmates, and police officers try to process the senseless act. Police Officer Tori DelliCarpini was one of the officers who responded to the early morning destruction on Dec. 25.
DelliCarpini was so upset by the devastation, she felt compelled to share her thoughts on social media, to spread awareness of the effects of drunk driving.
DelliCarpini also gave a poignant message about the true hearts of the officers at the San Jose Police Department. She put together a basket of flowers and a card for the grieving Nguyen family, and all 11 officers who were at the scene drove over to their house to deliver the token of kindness.
The door opened to hesitant, weary faces, who agreed to let the officers come inside. Andrew’s grieving father and uncle stood in disbelief that the officers cared enough to come to visit.
“And as we stood there, I noticed one thing…All of the boy’s Christmas presents were in a pile on the coffee table,” DelliCarpini wrote. “Presents that I’m sure were hard-earned and deserved, and supposed to be opened just several hours after the accident.”
The tragic effects of drinking and driving left a painful sting on an entire community, beyond immediate family and friends. DelliCarpini wanted to explain that law enforcement personnel are humans too, with feeling, aching, breaking hearts for this family.
DelliCarpini begged readers to never, ever drink and drive. With so many alternatives available, there is NEVER a valid excuse for getting behind the wheel after having a drink, even if you’ve had just one and you believe you hold your alcohol really well.
Andrew was a freshman at Evergreen Valley High School after graduating from Chaboya Middle School earlier in 2016. His classmates say their Jan. 3 return to school will be painful and difficult.
“We want to tell the family that we’re so sorry about what happened,” said a tearful Natalie Rojas, who identified herself as Zamora’s best friend. “No one deserves to die like that.”
Rochelle Ybarra, Zamora’s godmother, gave a tearful statement to NBC Bay Area media. “I’m so sorry that this happened — on Christmas,” she cried. “I hope that anybody out there that does drink and drive, please make a better choice, and save others’ lives.”
Read Officer DelliCarpini’s full post below:
**Tonight I was a part of being the REAL San Jose Police Department, the human behind the badge, and here’s why.
We all handle things differently and most often see the worst in people.
We responded on Christmas morning to a double fatal collision where an innocent 14-year old boy lost his life at the hands of a drunk driver with an outstanding warrant for a prior drunk driving incident.Advertisement - story continues below
We saw the wreckage…the car parts…the struggle of medics and fire personnel to save the lives of those involved.
We saw the conscious, breathing, albeit sore, parents and had to move them away from their child so he could get medical attention.
Sadly we are the first to know when someone succumbs to their injuries.
No parent should ever have to bury their child.
This collision bothered me.
All collisions and loss of life calls bother me, but this in particular made my heart ache.
This family lost their son on Christmas morning to something that NEVER should have happened.
Tonight, before shift, I bought a simple basket of white flowers and a card for the family.
Every officer who was on scene that night signed the card and rallied together to offer support for the family.
Because we felt their loss.
All 11 of us drove in a group to the family’s house, lined our cars up down the street, and then went to the door and rang the bell.
A family member hesitantly answered the door because they’ve been hounded by the media since the incident occurred.
He was speechless and invited us into the family’s home, quickly closing the door behind us.
As we all crowded around the living room table, the boy’s father came down the stairs, obviously sore from his injuries.
His wife remained upstairs, still in too much pain to be mobile.
We presented the flower basket and card to the father and uncle.
They couldn’t believe we came to see them, let alone so many of us.
And as we stood there, I noticed one thing… All of the boy’s Christmas presents were in a pile on the coffee table.
Presents that I’m sure were hard-earned and deserved, and supposed to be opened just several hours after the accident.
The father and uncle insisted we stay for a picture. I know I stood in the living room wishing I didn’t have to be in the picture, but I did… And so did the rest of my teammates. I hope that picture remains private.
I also hope it doesn’t remind the family of pain and loss and grief, but of love and support and comfort.
As we left their home to go to our respective beats all over the city, the father and uncle shook all of our hands and thanked us repeatedly.
I’m not posting this for attention or for recognition, but to simply say this: It’s not just other drivers and passengers that are affected, it’s not just friends and family, it’s not just mothers/daughters/fathers/sons… It’s everyone.
Medics. Fire. Police. Dispatchers.
Don’t drink and drive.
The devastation felt has a ripple effect. Have a designated driver, call an Uber, call a taxi, sleep in your car, stay at a friend’s place, call your mother, hell, call the police.
Have that talk with your kids and family members. No age is “too old” or “too young.”
I’d rather take you home than have to feel how my team and I felt on Christmas morning.
That family will never be whole again. I can only hope they have an outpouring of love and support from friends and family to help them through this tragedy.
Rest in peace, sweet boy. You will not be forgotten.***
—Officer Tori DelliCarpini
If you’re grateful for caring officers like Tori DelliCarpini and her department, as well as for the vital message to save lives by refraining from drunk driving, be sure to share her message with friends and family on Facebook.
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