On Nov. 21, a 24-year-old man driving in San Luis Obispo, California, lost control of his vehicle and ran into a curb, a street sign, and a bridge abutment. What followed has left families heartbroken and the community feeling like part of the story is missing.
Police responded to the initial crash at around 5:35 p.m., and believe that while excessive speed was likely a factor in the accident, alcohol impairment was not.
Authorities filed a collision report, the car was towed and the incident seemed to have been handled — but the next day, the situation grew increasingly darker.
On the afternoon of Nov. 22, a call was made to report a dead dog in the creek below the bridge where the single-vehicle collision had taken place. Authorities were unable to reach the dog’s owners, so arranged for animal control to handle the find.
That evening, two missing person reports came into the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD), for 39-year-old Matthew Chachere and his girlfriend, 36-year-old Jennifer Besser — the owners of the dead dog that had been found in the creek, though that connection was not immediately made.
The couple’s home was empty, and police found no evidence of foul play. According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, it was a police dispatcher looking over photos of the missing people submitted by family who noticed the dog in the photos looked like the dog they’d found in the creek, and was able to put the pieces together.
A search of the creekbed turned up Chachere’s and Besser’s bodies hidden deep in the underbrush. Police now believe the couple and their dog were victims of the earlier car crash, and are investigating to see whether or not the driver could be held responsible.
“Criminal charges will be determined based on the evidence and findings at the conclusion of the investigation,” a statement from the SLOPD read, according to a notice shared by the City of San Luis Obispo.
Chachere, a former head coach for the Ceres High School football team, had also worked as a coach at the Grace M. Davis high school. Head Coach and Athletic Director at Grace M. Davis, Timmy Garcia, said the loss was a big one for the community.
“He was our defensive coordinator on the 10-0 championship team in 2021,” Garcia told KXTV. “Just completely devastated to hear this happened to him and his girlfriend. At a loss for words, just really can’t believe it to be honest.
“Matt is a tremendous human being with high character and integrity. He was a outstanding role model for our young men that we have here playing football on and off the field.
“You don’t want this to happen to anybody, but for … this to happen to such a wonderful man … it’s upsetting. He’s going to be tremendously missed, and we just hope that the families of both Matt and Jennifer can find strength and courage to get through this difficult time.”
Chachere and Besser had moved to the area recently because both had jobs with E. & J. Gallo Winery.
Many people still have questions, finding the entire incident to be questionable at best. How could someone not realize they’d hit two people and a dog? How did investigators not notice all three bodies or suspect anything when the dog’s body was found?
A woman identifying herself as Chachere’s sister posted on a public media release to agree that the whole thing was not only heartbreaking, but that something seemed seriously off.
“I’m still in shock and trying to grieve,” Nicole Chachere Ricketts wrote. “Our family are absolutely heartbroken and devastated. This whole entire investigation makes no sense! We are so puzzled and confused.
“The SLO community is amazing. I’m hoping we can help solve this case.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.