Time froze last fall for the families of Matthew Chachere and Jennifer Besser.
“My family and I are in denial that it actually happened,” said Nicole Ricketts, Chachere’s sister. “It was so tragic and unfortunate. ”
Ricketts who lives in Denver, Colorado told KSBY News that losing her only sibling was heartbreaking.
“We traveled a lot together,” recalled Ricketts. “I feel like we even grew closer as we've gotten older just because, you know, we're not too far apart; I have two boys, he was the best uncle ever.”
Chachere was 39 years old. He was a former college football player and Cal Poly alum.
“He was the most patient, heartwarming, charismatic,” said Ricketts.
36-year-old Besser loved the ocean and animals.
“On the other hand, Jenn was his balance,” described Ricketts. “She was just vibrant, funny, very witty .”
The couple was together for 11 years.
Chachere, Besser, and their dog Buddy were struck and killed in a crash in San Luis Obispo on Nov. 21, 2022. Their bodies were not recovered until nearly two days later.
“Jenn would take the dog for a walk in the evening, and my brother was like, ‘You're not walking alone; I don't want you walking alone,’” recalled Ricketts from one of her visits to the Central Coast. “It was during the evening, so that's why I know my brother went with her.”
San Luis Obispo Police (SLOPD) believe the suspected driver Daniel Saligan Patricio was speeding at the time of the crash hitting the couple, a part of a bridge and a street sign. He has pleaded not guilty.
A memorial at the site is helping family members cope with their loss.
“That bridge is a very remarkable reflecting spot for me and my family, especially not living in San Luis Obispo, so whenever we come back there, we try to reflect,” said Ricketts.
In a video of the memorial shot back on Nov. 29, 2022, viewers could see a stuffed dog, wreath, and flowers.
Fast forward to today, April 20, 2023, there is only a sticker that reads Ride High Chach.
“It is very heartbreaking and upsetting to see someone, you know, take down everything,” said Ricketts.
Ricketts said a family friend has been dropping off flowers, but they seem to disappear. On Easter, Ricketts said a bouquet was chained to the bridge.
“She wrapped it around there, and then 24 hours later, it was gone,” said Ricketts.
KSBY News reached out to the SLO Public Works Department, and they told me their staff has not been removing items from the memorial.
“Public memorials are not uncommon, and if community members do put them up, the memorials simply cannot encroach on sidewalks and roadways/public right of way,” said in a statement Christine Wallace, the Neighborhood Outreach Manager for SLOPD.
Wallace also said it would be hard to cite people for removing items from a memorial because they are considered abandoned property.
Ricketts said the family plans to keep putting flowers up and hopes the items stay put.
“I want the legacy to move on, and in a peaceful way and a respectful way and a beautiful way,” said Ricketts.
Long term, Ricketts said she would like to see the space beautified with a mural to keep the couple’s love for San Luis Obispo alive.
The next date for a pre-preliminary hearing for the case is on June 1, 2023.