The night 19-year-old Bryce Campo died, he posed for a photo in front of the wings mural at Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles, where he’d gone with friends after his shift at Zara in South Coast Plaza.
Bryce was killed on his way home, after he got out of his car to help Santiago Sanjuan-Mancilla, 42, whose car had hit the wall along the 22 freeway near the Brookhurst Street exit in Garden Grove on Oct. 30.
The men didn’t know one another, but they lived just a few blocks away from each other in Stanton. Both died at the scene.
That last photo — the angel photo of Bryce — is prominently displayed in the Campo home, along with another he’d taken that night, with his hands folded under his chin as if in prayer.
Against that backdrop, representatives from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Office and Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) Orange County visited the Campo home carrying a red envelope with “Operation Secret Santa” written on the outside, and $1,000 in cash sealed inside.
Cindy Campo, Bryce’s mother, plans to start a foundation in her son’s name, to continue helping others the way her son did.
“He was just a really good human being,” Cindy Campo said. “His heart was huge, and I’m just so grateful to see how many people he actually did touch in such a short time. That is going to live on.”
On a Zara “Get to Know Me” form, Bryce had completed the sentence “I want to be known for: helping out the world.” He studied kinesiology at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, prior to changing his major to philosophy. His family has been discovering snippets of poems hidden among his papers and notebooks.
“He was just immersed in everything that he could,” Cindy Campo said.
Katherine, 25, is the oldest of the four Campo siblings. She said Bryce was always looking out for others. “He wanted the good for everyone,” she said.
“(His mother) taught him how to always be helpful and to stop when people needed help, and that’s what he did and it cost him his life, unfortunately,” Orange County Sheriff’s Department Senior Deputy Coroner Paul Hoag said.
The money comes from an anonymous donor who gifted $18,500 to TIP for families in need — an increase from the $17,000 donated last year. This is the third year the donor has given funds to TIP for Operation Secret Santa. TIP, a nonprofit volunteer organization, provides support to people following a tragedy, and works with police, fire fighters, and hospitals.
Families identified through the Deputy Coroner’s office will receive $1,000, and then TIP volunteers will join deputies on patrol to hand out the rest, which they call “spontaneous patrol giving.”
Sharon Richards, TIP volunteer and dispatcher, says she enjoys “being able to bring a little bit of joy and hope to families that have suffered a tragedy.”
“Even though money can’t replace life, it lets them know people are thinking about them,” Richards said.