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Driver who fatally struck ex-Ceres coach admits guilt
Daniel Angel Saliganpatricio guilty
Daniel Angel Saliganpatricio, the driver responsible for the deaths of former Ceres High football head coach Matthew Chachere and girlfriend Jennifer Besser, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter on Feb. 21. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Daniel Angel Saliganpatricio, the driver responsible for the deaths of former Ceres High School football head coach Matthew Chachere and his girlfriend Jennifer Besser, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter on Feb. 21 according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

Chachere, 39, and Besser, 36, were walking their dog Buddy near Sacramento Drive in San Luis Obispo on Nov. 21, 2022 when they were struck by 25-year-old Saliganpatricio.

Saliganpatricio was driving his vehicle at a high speed, failed to make a nearly 90 degree turn and collided with Chachere, Besser and their pet. All three were killed as a result of the collision.

“It was really sad to hear how it happened,” said Elias Saldana, who played football for Chachere for two seasons at Ceres High. “That’s what makes it terrible. It’s tragic. He was a really good person. He was a welcoming coach. He was energetic. He was no nonsense. When you did well, your work was acknowledged. He gave you a boost of encouragement.”

Saliganpatricio is scheduled to be sentenced on April 9 in Department 6 of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. He entered guilty pleas on all of the charges, without any agreement on what his sentencing might entail. Because there was no agreement on a sentence, Judge Michael S. Frye has wide discretion in imposing a sentence which can range from a period of probation to the maximum term of seven years and four months in prison.

Saliganpatricio was required to wear an ankle monitor until the trial started after being released from custody on March 1, 2023. Saliganpatricio also had to surrender his license, refrain from drinking or going anywhere that sells alcohol, and follow probation requirements.

The case was investigated by the San Luis Obispo Police Department and is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Danielle Baker.

A three-month investigation conducted by the San Luis Obispo Police Department led to the arrest of Saliganpatricio for the hit-and-run deaths.

The bodies of Chachere and Besser were found in a creek bed near the intersection of Sacramento Drive and Basil Lane on Nov. 22.

The police investigation concluded that in the early evening hours on Nov. 21 Saliganpatricio sped through a curve near the 3400 block of Sacramento Drive, lost control of his vehicle and struck the couple and their dog, a curb, street sign and bridge. Police believe he was speeding at 60 mph in a 25 mph speed limit.

The force of the impact knocked the couple into the adjacent wooded area and down into a dry creek bed where they remained undetected in the darkness and vegetation. When officers arrived at the scene of the accident, Saliganpatricio either did not know or failed to notify police that he may have struck two people and a dog. The couple was found under heavy brush near the accident location late the next day after family reported them missing.

“SLOPD is committed to the thorough completion of all investigations,” Police Chief Rick Scott stated in a past press release. “We appreciate the patience of the community while we worked towards providing important answers to family members and our community in ultimate pursuit of justice. We have been in close communication and supported the families of the victims throughout this difficult process and hope that they get the justice they seek and the closure they need.”

Chachere was born in New Orleans and grew up in Cincinnati, where he graduated from Princeton High School in 2001.

He played football at and graduated from Cal Poly (2001-05). He totaled 106 tackles and 18 sacks in 27 games while contributing at defensive end/outside linebacker.

He collected a career-high 65 tackles and 10 sacks during his final season with the Mustangs, who posted a 9-4 record, claimed a share of the Great West Football Conference title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. Cal Poly climbed to No. 6 in the national rankings.

Chachere served as head coach of Ceres High’s football program for two seasons (2018, 2019). He also coached at Grace Davis and Beyer high schools in Modesto, Connecticut’s U. S. Coast Guard Academy, Princeton High School and San Luis Obispo High School.

“It was his first head coaching job,” said Johnson, who served as defensive coordinator on Chachere’s coaching staff.

“He was very energetic. He was always upbeat. He was very focused on coaching. He was all business at practice. He had his expectations. He did the best he could with the opportunity.”

“He understood it was a rebuild process,” commented former Bulldog football standout Felipe Martinez. “I think he could have had more success if he had a couple more years at the school. He was a different type of coach. He tried to bring a college-style mindset when it came to football—whether it was for practice or our full schedule for game days. He switched up the way we weight trained. He was a good coach. He was really determined.”

Longtime Ceres High School football coach Brett Johnson was at school when he learned of Chachere’s tragic passing.

Johnson was Chachere’s defensive coordinator at Ceres High.

“I found out right before fifth period,” he said. “I didn’t want to believe it. It’s like getting punched in the gut. He was a nice guy. I feel for his family and his girlfriend’s family, and their friends. It’s just a sad ordeal.”

Matt Chachere and Jennifer Besser
Matt Chachere, head coach of Ceres High School’s football program from 2018-19, was killed in San Luis Obispo on Nov. 21 with his girlfriend Jennifer Besser, 36, and their dog. Their bodies were found in a creek bed near the intersection of Sacramento Drive and Basil Lane the next day.