Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 4:48 am | Fair 55º


Local News

Son of Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer Killed in Rhode Island Accident

Alleged drunken driver strikes, kills Brown University freshman Avi Schaefer

The son of a well-known Santa Barbara rabbi was killed early Friday after being struck by an alleged drunken driver in Providence, R.I.

Avi Schaefer, 21, son of Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer and his wife, Laurie, was a freshman at Brown University. Gross-Schaefer leads Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara.

The driver of an SUV has been charged with felony drunken-driving charges for hitting Schaefer and his girlfriend as the couple walked along the street just before 2 a.m. Friday, according to the Providence Journal. Daniel Gilcreast, 23, of North Providence, R.I., was charged with driving under the influence with death resulting and driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury.

Police say Gilcreast, who was not injured in the crash, refused to take an alcohol test at the scene. Police used a new state law to obtain a warrant to have his blood drawn to determine whether he was impaired.

Schaefer’s girlfriend, Marika Baltscheffsky, 19, a Brown exchange student from Sweden, was treated for serious injuries but was later released from a local hospital.

“Avi was an extraordinary and gifted young man, with enormous promise. His death is a devastating loss for his family, his friends, and our entire community,” Michael Rassler, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, said in a statement Friday.

In a statement, Brown president Ruth Simmons described Schaefer as “a young man of inordinate strength and integrity.” She said he had quickly distinguished himself as a student leader who recently organized a campus-wide relief effort for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Prior to enrolling at Brown, Schaefer served three years in the Israel Defense Forces, becoming a counter-terrorism instructor and working with special units in both the Israeli and U.S. militaries. He had expressed an interest in joining the Providence (R.I.) Police Department’s SWAT unit and had participated in several training exercises with the squad, the Providence Journal reported.

In addition to his parents, Schaefer is survived by his brothers, Elisha, Yoav and Noah, and grandparents Sylvia and Jesse Gross.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles 90077. Bus transportation will be available from Santa Barbara, departing at 8:30 a.m. Monday from Congregation B’nai B’rith, 1000 San Antonio Creek Road, and arriving back in Santa Barbara at about 5 p.m. after the burial at Mount Sinai Memorial Parks & Mortuary. The fee for the bus is $20 per person. RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by noon Sunday.

Friends have established a Facebook page, RIP Avi Schaefer, to share their memories and condolences.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >