HOUSTON -

Houston police said a wrong-way driver on the Gulf Freeway died after he slammed into an SUV headed outbound overnight.

Officer Joe Segovia is being remembered as a loving husband, father of nine children and a dedicated police officer. Segovia worked patrol at the University of Houston Clear Lake and the police department is mourning his tragic death.

"He was one sharp guy. He's going to be missed; only be here a short time," said UH-Clear Lake Police Chief Paul Willingham.

Segovia was driving to work Monday morning on the Gulf Freeway, when a wrong-way driver slammed into his car head on. Both drivers died at the scene.

Investigators say the crash happened in a split second and Segovia had no time to react.

"There was a witness who was directly in front of the SUV traveling southbound and he saw the oncoming vehicle and was able to get out of the way," said Sgt. Sorge with the Houston Police Department. "According to his statement, the small SUV who had the police officer in it was about 50 feet behind him and just didn't have time to maneuver."

The Medical Examiner's office has identified the wrong-way driver as 45-year-old Arnulfo Samuel Cerna. Police say they are still trying to determine if speed or alcohol was a factor in the deadly crash.

Officer Segovia had just celebrated his wedding anniversary this past weekend. While his family isn't up to talking, friends and neighbors say Segovia will be sorely missed.

"Speechless. I have no words. I can't imagine the pain and the trauma," said neighbor Mark Salinas.

"On a personal note I found Joe Segovia to be star in the making. I thought he would be an exceptional university police officer," Chief Willingham said.

The University released a statement Monday morning:

"Officer Joe Segovia of the University of Houston-Clear Lake Police Department was fatally injured when his vehicle was struck by another vehicle as he was on his way in to work.

"Officer Segovia was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the University of Houston-Clear Lake Police Department since January 9, 2013.

"Officer Segovia was assigned to the patrol division and quickly integrated into the community during his short time with the department.  He was regarded as an exemplary officer and will be greatly missed."

A fund has been established to assist Officer Joe Segovia's family with expenses. Those interested in contributing may send checks to the University of Houston-Clear Lake Police Department.