HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Less than a year after he killed a Howard County man, a drunk driver may soon walk free. Now the friends and family of the victim, 22-year-old Matthew Cheswick, are coming together to keep his killer behind bars.

Meghan McCorkell has more on their efforts.

That drunk driver was sentenced to five years in prison. The victim’s family is outraged he could soon be up for parole.

He was known for his smile that lit up a room but 22-year-old Matthew Cheswick’s life was cut short.

“Matthew…he just had a heart of gold. He really, really had a heart of gold,” said his mother, Cecilia Roe.

Last Memorial Day weekend, Cheswick was crossing Coastal Highway in Ocean City when he was struck by a drunk driver. Thirty-year-old Diogo Facchini just kept going, only stopping when witnesses chased him.

“The judge at the sentencing said his alcohol level was so high that most people couldn’t even crawl with that high of an alcohol level,” Roe said.

In November, Facchini was sentenced to five years in prison but days ago, a letter informed Cheswick’s family he may soon be up for parole.

“It tears me up inside. It hurts really bad to know that he could be walking the streets again sometime soon,” said Carl Braun, a friend of Cheswick’s.

So Braun started an online petition to keep the man who killed his friend behind bars. It already has more than 1,600 signatures.

Cheswick was a 2008 graduate at Glenelg High School and was attending Towson University when he died. But signatures aren’t just coming from classmates.

“I see people posting from Ohio, Long Island, Arizona, California, Florida,” Braun said.

Cheswick’s mother has a message for the man who took her son.

“I have forgiven him. I just want him to change his ways. That’s what I want,” she said.

Now, for her son, she hopes to spread the message against drunk driving so some light can come of this dark.

So far, no date has been set for Facchini’s parole hearing. Cheswick’s mother says she plans to testify.

A scholarship fund has been set up at Glenelg High School in Cheswick’s name.

To sign the petition to keep Facchini behind bars, click here.

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