University of California, San Francisco police Chief Pamela Roskowski today said the community and Police Department were “stunned and heartbroken” by this morning’s death of police Officer Edson Veloro, who was killed in a high-speed crash off Interstate Highway 280.
Veloro, 32, died when his white Dodge Magnum swerved from southbound Highway 280 onto an off-ramp to John Daly Boulevard, lost control and left the roadway at about 12:15 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.
A UCSF police dispatcher, Art Dragon, 39, was also in the car and was severely injured.
“This is a very sad day for us at UCSF,” Roskowski said this afternoon outside UCSF police headquarters. “We are stunned and heartbroken by the tragedy that occurred this morning.”
Roskowski said Veloro, who was born and raised in the city, left behind two daughters, ages 15 and 5, and a 12-year-old son, as well as a large extended family. His father Edgardo Veloro is a security officer at the university.
Veloro was named UCSF Police Department employee of the year last year.
Roskowski called him “an outstanding officer” and “a devoted father.”
The circumstances surrounding the crash are still a mystery. The California Highway Patrol is investigating.
CHP spokesman Shawn Chase said there had been several reports of the vehicle driving recklessly on the highway, at speeds from 90 mph to 100 mph, before the crash. There was no immediate indication of drugs or alcohol being a factor, and no other vehicles were involved in the crash, he said.
“They were just driving way too fast for the conditions, I have no idea why,” Chase said.
Both Veloro and Dragon were thrown from the car after it left the road and went airborne, hit a tree, landed on a parked car and then rolled off onto the street below in the city’s Oceanview neighborhood, according to Chase.
Dragon, who joined the department in 2007, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he remained in critical condition this afternoon.
Veloro got off work at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Dragon after 10 p.m., Roskowski said. Both were off-duty at the time of the crash.
Roskowski said the men were good friends.
A memorial fund has been set up for Veloro’s family. Donations can be sent to: Relief Fund for Edson Veloro, SF Police Credit Union, 2550 Irving St., San Francisco 94122 (sted 802 Bryant St., San Francisco 94103). For more information, call (415) 558-5725 (sted (415) 558-5720).