Driver charged in fatal Thayer St. crash

By
News Editor

Avi Schaefer ’13 was struck and killed by a vehicle at approximately 1:40 a.m. Friday at the intersection of Thayer and Hope streets, according to Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn. The driver of the vehicle, Daniel Gilcreast, was charged Friday with driving under the influence, death resulting and driving under the influence, serious bodily injury resulting, according to a press release from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s press office.

Quinn said there were two other students walking with Schaefer at the time, one of whom was also struck by the vehicle. Marika Baltscheffsky ’13 suffered injuries during the collision, Keith Tucker, commanding officer in the Providence Police Department’s Homeland Security Division, confirmed in an e-mail to The Herald.

Schaefer and the second student were taken to Rhode Island Hospital after the accident by Providence rescue, according to Quinn. Schaefer was pronounced dead around 2 a.m. from injuries he sustained during the accident. The second student was released from the hospital on Friday, Quinn said.

PPD is investigating the circumstances surrounding the accident, Quinn said.

PPD officers declined to comment on the specifics of the accident because a fatality was involved. According to the attorney general’s press release, Gilcreast was released on $25,000 bail with the provision that he abstain from alcohol consumption and not drive. He will appear in Providence District Court on Feb. 26.

According to the release, Gilcreast, who has no prior convictions, refused a Breathalyzer test at the police department and was given a blood test to determine his blood alcohol level. The administration of the blood test was provided for by a new law, enacted in November by the General Assembly, allowing police officers to mandate a blood or breath sample for accidents resulting in death or serious injury.

The University has been in touch with Schaefer’s family, Quinn said, adding that the Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life offered support services at Brown/RISD Hillel Friday and Saturday. A memorial is being set for later this spring.

“At this point, we’re really just trying to offer support for students who knew and loved Avi,” Quinn said. “In his very short time, he knew and touched so many people.”

Quinn said there had been incidents involving pedestrians on campus before, but none had been fatal.

According to a campus-wide e-mail sent by President Ruth Simmons late Friday morning, Schaefer had already begun to make his mark at Brown, excelling in courses on religion, politics and Arabic.

“A young man of inordinate strength and integrity, Avi had already begun to have an impact on the Brown community,” Simmons wrote. “By all early signs, he was a student who was going to make the most of his time at Brown and his mark on the world after Brown.”

Schaefer came to Brown after serving for three years in the Israeli Defense Forces, she wrote, adding that he was an influential member of the Hillel community and was working with a professor to develop a class on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“All the officers of the Providence Police Department who worked with him will miss him,” said PPD Chief Dean Esserman, who met Schaefer when he approached the chief about helping the department’s SWAT team after returning from Israel.

“I will miss my friend, who, over this past year, I’ve gotten to know,” Esserman said. “It’s a great loss for the Brown community and the community of Providence.”