OCEAN CITY — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco spent much of last Friday afternoon working behind the counter of a Baltimore area Dairy Queen to raise $25,000 for a memorial fund on behalf of a pedestrian killed by a drunk driver in Ocean City last Memorial Day weekend.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">
Flacco was looking to raise money for a memorial fund in the name of Matthew Jude Cheswick, a 2008 Glenelg High School graduate and Towson University student who was struck and killed by a drunk driver on Coastal Highway on May 28, 2012. Flacco spent Friday afternoon working at the Dairy Queen in Rosedale and teamed up with DQ to raise and donate $25,000 to the Matthew Cheswick Memorial Fund.
The money raised by the fund will be used in numerous ways including scholarships for Glenelg High students who best exemplify Cheswick’s spirit and to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. A portion of the funds raised will also be used for a memorial bench in Cheswick’s name on the Boardwalk in Ocean City.
The idea for the Matthew Cheswick Memorial Fund came from the co-workers of his mother, Cecilia Roe, because they wanted to establish a memorial bench on the Boardwalk in his honor. When far more money was raised early on than what was needed for the bench, the effort expanded to include the scholarship program and drunk-driving awareness campaign.
According to the team’s website, Flacco came up with the idea to join the effort to raise money for the memorial fund after becoming aware of the tragic accident that claimed the life of one of the Ravens’ biggest fans. Cheswick attended every Ravens’ home game from a young age and was a huge fan. Last season, his father and younger brother attended every home game armed with a huge banner that read “Cheese,” which was Cheswick’s nickname derived from his brilliant smile.
Flacco addressed the ongoing problem with drinking and driving and the tragedies it causes.
“It’s definitely a big problem that we have today with all the drivers out there and with all the things that we got going on,” Flacco said in a prepared statement. “The biggest thing is to just be as safe as you can.”
According to several reports, the Super Bowl MVP quarterback was somewhat inept at his temporary job and the sundaes were not exactly flying across the counter at the Rosedale establishemnt on Friday on his watch. Flacco admitted as much, according to the team’s website.
“I never had a job,” he said. “My first job was quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. I never had any experience with this, so that’s why I’m not very good at it.”
Around 1:20 a.m. back on May 28, 2012, Ocean City Police responded to the area of 54th Street and Coastal Highway for a reported hit-and-run accident involving a pedestrian. The investigation revealed the pedestrian, later identified as Cheswick, was attempting to cross Coastal Highway from east to west when he was struck by an Isuzu Rodeo traveling in the bus lane.
After striking the victim, the driver, identified as Facchini, 30, of Lorton, Va., continued to travel north on Coastal Highway before turning right on 55th Street, where witnesses followed his vehicle until he was apprehended by police. The preliminary investigation revealed Facchini had a blood-alcohol content of three times the legal limit.
Facchini, who was not injured during the collision, was arrested and charged with homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, leaving the scene of a fatal collision, driving under the influence and while impaired and numerous other traffic violations. Last September in Circuit Court, Facchini pleaded guilty to negligent homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and failure to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving a fatality and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered.
Back in Circuit Court in November, Facchini was sentenced to five years in jail for the negligent homicide by motor vehicle count and was also placed on probation for five years and fined $5,000. Facchini was also sentenced to five years in jail for the failure to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving a fatality, but that sentence was suspended.
Earlier this spring, Cheswick’s family and friends organized a petition drive calling for the denial of parole for Facchini, who is serving a five-year sentence. The petition drive arose when the victim’s friends and family learned Facchini would soon be eligible for a parole hearing as part of the Maryland Parole Commission’s standard protocol. However, Parole Commission officials said the protocol calling for a parole hearing for Facchini should not be taken as a sign the defendant could soon be walking out of jail.
The minimum Facchini will be required to serve before he becomes eligible for any release is a quarter of his original sentence, or 15 months in this case, which would his earliest release date sometime in February 2014. However, the parole commission chairman called the petition drive, which had soared past 3,000 signatures as of this week, highly unusual and said the volume of support would be taken into consideration at any eventual parole hearing.