OCEAN CITY — A Virginia man who pleaded guilty to striking and killing another man who later became symbolic of Ocean City’s Walk-Smart pedestrian safety campaign is heading back to jail for five years after violating his probation.
Around 1:20 a.m. on May 28, 2012, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to the area of 54th Street and Coastal Highway for a reported hit-and-run collision involving a pedestrian. The investigation revealed the pedestrian, identified a Matthew Jude Cheswick, a Towson University student, was attempting to cross Coastal Highway from east to west when he was struck by an Isuzu Rodeo traveling the bus lane at a high rate of speed.
After striking Cheswick, the driver, later identified as Diogo Facchini, then 30, of Lorton, Va., continued to travel north on Coastal Highway before turning right onto 55th Street. Witnesses to the pedestrian collision followed Facchini until he was identified and apprehended by police. Cheswick ultimately died from injuries sustained in the collision and Facchini was charged with multiple counts including homicide by motor vehicle and leaving the scene of a fatal collision along with various drunk-driving counts.
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. He was sentenced to five years for the negligent homicide by motor vehicle count and was also placed on probation for five years upon his release. Facchini was also sentenced to five years for the failure to immediately return to the scene of an accident involving a fatality, all of which was suspended.
Facchini served the majority of the five-year sentence for the negligent homicide conviction and was later released and began his probationary period. In May, however, Facchini was charged in another serious accident in Virginia Beach that resulted in charges of reckless driving, endangering life and property and driving on revoked license.
Those new charges triggered a violation of the terms of probation in Worcester County for the 2012 fatal collision in Ocean City. Back in court last week for a violation of probation hearing, Facchini was sentenced to the original five years suspended for the failure to immediately return to the scene of a fatal accident conviction and was sent back to jail to serve out the remaining time.
Meanwhile, his victim, Cheswick, has become the poster child of sorts for Ocean City’s Walk Smart pedestrian safety initiatives. The fatal accident that claimed Cheswick along with a rash of similar collisions in the resort served as the catalyst for a partnership between the town of Ocean City and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). The town and the state launched an aggressive education and enforcement campaign aimed at reducing the number of pedestrian collisions.
Over the last few years, the Walk Smart campaign has resulted in more marked crosswalks on Coastal Highway, increased signage, road markings and other physical improvements. Perhaps more importantly, the Walk Smart program has included an aggressive awareness campaign aimed at urging pedestrians to use the designated crosswalks while urging motorists to increase their awareness of pedestrian traffic. As a result, the iconic Walk Smart cartoon crab has been plastered on signs, buses, drink coasters and hotel room placards urging visitors to follow the rules of the road. Last year, the cartoon crab was officially named Cheswick after a social media poll.