OCEANSIDE, Calif. — An Oceanside police officer who was killed in the line of duty always said he wanted his son to inherit his truck when he was old enough. On Friday, that dream became a reality.
Tony Zeppetella was killed while conducting a traffic stop in 2003. At the time, he had a young wife and 6-month-old baby at home.
“The community did a lot of amazing things for us that he was not old enough to remember,” Zeppetella’s wife, Jamie, said of their son, Jakob.
Though Jakob was too young to remember a lot of what happened back then, he did always remember his father’s truck.
“Ever since we’ve had the truck I’ve kind of imagined it being my car once I’m old enough to drive,” Jakob said.
Jamie told FOX 5 there were a lot of memories wrapped up in the truck, including it being the vehicle they brought Jakob home in when he was born.
“Tony would say that we were going to keep this truck forever and it was going to be Jakob’s first car,” Jamie said.
As the years passed and Jakob became old enough to drive, the 1998 truck fell in need of some repairs. That’s when the community came together once again to help the family and make Tony’s wish to gift his truck to his son come true.
“I pulled together a couple of shops around here,” said Corey Terry with Terry’s Auto Body. “Us obviously, the local mechanic shop West Coast Automotive down the street. We all kinda just donated to get it all done at no cost to the family.”
Terry said the total work done on the truck would have cost somewhere near $10,000.
In addition to the essential repairs, they changed the color of the truck from red to gray, which was something Jakob really wanted.
The family came by Terry’s Auto Body to pick up the truck on Friday. Though Jakob has spent the last year learning how to drive, he’ll now have to learn how to drive a stick shift, something he’s excited to accomplish.
“I knew it would be super sweet and I’m super happy with how it turned out,” Jakob said.