By LAURA HAEFELI
MODESTO, California (KOVR) — A former local high school football coach and his girlfriend, who both worked at a Modesto winery, were killed by a vehicle while they were walking their dog in San Luis Obispo, police say.
A coroner identified the pair as San Luis Obispo residents Matthew Chachere, 39, and Jennifer Besser, 36.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department said, on November 21, a 24-year-old man crashed into a bridge along Sacramento Drive. Officers arrived on the scene and, with no suspicion of DUI or any foul play, let the driver go.
That’s when the investigation took a dark turn.
Fewer than 24 hours later, dispatch received a call of a dead dog near the scene. That same evening, a missing person’s report went out of two San Luis Obispo residents who had not arrived at their expected location in Modesto for the holidays.
Family members gave photos of the couple and their dog to the police. That’s when a dispatcher made the connection: the dead dog was owned by the missing residents. Officers returned to the crash site and found the two dead bodies tucked underneath the brush.
San Luis Obispo police said Chachere, Besser and their dog had been struck by the driver and left for dead.
“Just completely devastated to hear that that happened to them,” said Timmy Garcia, the athletic director and head football coach at Grace Davis High School in Modesto.
Chachere was an embedded member of his community. He coached football at Ceres High School before heading to Grace Davis High as the defensive coordinator for an undefeated season in 2021. There, he coached alongside his friend Garcia.
“We were looking forward to getting together during the holidays [and] reminiscing and talking about life,” Garcia said.
Chachere and Besser worked for the E&J Gallo Winery at the time of their deaths but always remained beloved members of the Grace Davis community that is now shattered by the loss.
“The kids we contacted sent condolences and were completely in shock. Everybody is just very, very sad,” Garcia said.
The driver involved in the deaths is being questioned by police, but he is not under arrest as of the time of this story. Police also did say speed was a factor in the crash.
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