NEWS- Garlic mourned: Second WV brother dies here
He had been arrested more than 200 times, but friends and family say that Cecil Ray Garlic was a generous man who simply had a severe drinking problem. When he was struck and killed by a vehicle on April 30, police say alcohol– his consumption of it– may have been a factor. He becomes the second in his family to die tragically here.
Garlic, 45, was homeless, and his family in Bradshaw, West Virginia, was not surprised to hear of his death. "We kind of knew it could happen any time," says his brother Ricky Garlic.
Like so many others who come to Charlottesville, Cecil Garlic fell in love with the town the first time he visited in the early 1980s.
He came back under less auspicious circumstances in the mid-'80s. "Tootie," as his family called him, had been in a serious car accident that injured an eye, burst his eardrums, and broke bones in his face; and he needed major surgery. Only a few doctors in the country could do it, and one of them was at UVA. "We had to fly him to Charlottesville," recalls Ricky.
That accident left Cecil Garlic disabled, blind in one eye, and "he could hardly see," out of the other, says his brother.
Cecil received a $96,000 settlement from the accident, and gave money to his church and to friends and invested in a business that went under. "He was so generous," says Ricky Garlic.
"When he was in church, he was a totally different person," remembers Ricky, "but after all the money was gone, he went back on the booze."
Tragedy– and alcohol– continued to stalk the Garlic family. An older brother, Billy, 41, was living in Charlottesville and looking for work. On August 15, 1990, he'd been drinking, and around 4am, he was walking along the Norfolk Southern tracks near Preston Avenue with three other men. Two of the men later said they didn't hear the approaching train.
According to contemporary news accounts, Billy was struck by a northbound going 23 miles per hour and died after surgery at UVA. Cecil was one of the men with him at the time of the accident and blamed himself for Billy's death, according to family members in West Virginia.
Periodically, the family would come to Charlottesville to take Cecil home. Other times, they'd get a motel room and host him and his homeless friends. But they could also go a year or two without knowing where he was. He died without ever seeing his two grandchildren in West Virginia.
Garlic may have been out of the area between 2000 and 2004. That's when there's a break in his lengthy arrest record in Charlottesville– 224 alcohol-related offenses between 1996 and 2006, according to Lt. Gary Pleasants.
Getting arrested more than 200 times for being intoxicated in public is "not uncommon," says Pleasants, and there are usually a half-dozen recurring names on the Charlottesville police's daily arrest report.
Public drunkenness is a Class 4 misdemeanor that carries no jail time and only a small fine, explains Pleasants. Those arrested are held until they've sobered up, usually three or four hours, and then released. It's not unusual for the same person to be arrested two or three times in one day, he adds.
Over the years, Garlic had been banned from several places in town, such as UVA, Barracks Road Shopping Center, and most recently, SNL Plaza– so there could be an occasional trespassing charge as well.
"A lot of this wouldn't have happened if we had a place where we could go year 'round," says Anton Brown, a friend of Garlic's who used to be homeless. Brown works for PACEM, a group of churches that provide shelter and food to homeless people during the cold months.
"People with addictions and alcoholism have been forgotten and let down by this community," Brown says. "Churches can only do so much."
Brown mourns the callous treatment of the homeless– and his friend. "I've seen bus drivers not let [Cecil] on the bus because he smelled bad because he wasn't able to bathe," he says.
The homeless "need to be treated with respect," continues Brown. "They're human beings. They're veterans. And a lot of people are just a paycheck away" from homelessness.
Brown describes Garlic as a kind, humorous, soft-hearted man. "I've seen him give a blanket to someone who didn't have one, because he did that to me," Brown says. "He wanted to fit in, to be accepted. You don't wake up one morning and say I wanna be a drunk and homeless for the rest of my life."
City Councilor-elect Dave Norris, executive director of PACEM, remembers Cecil Garlic's spiritual side. "Cecil had this sort of understanding of spirituality that was very simple and very clear," he says. "He had this thing– he would stop people and ask, 'Do you know how to spell God?' When someone said, G-O-D, he'd say, no, L-O-V-E."
His friends at PACEM held a memorial service for Garlic May 11. "We're all saddened by his death," says Norris. "He had a lot of issues in his life, but he was a peaceful and loving person."
Norris acknowledges the difficulty of helping people like Garlic. "It's the hardest group to reach, the chronic alcoholic struggling through with that devastating disease."
Garlic had been drinking wine in the woods with two friends the night he was killed, and his friends said they'd started around noon. The two other men had already crossed U.S. 29, and they yelled at Garlic to stop, says county officer Todd Lytton. But he didn't.
Ricky Garlic is puzzled about how his brother died. The family was told that Cecil walked into the northbound car that hit him as he tried to cross U.S. 29 in front of Schewel's furniture store. "He'd [already] crossed two lanes," says Ricky Garlic.
The Nissan Sentra involved was driven by Aaron Mathew Farley, 32, according to Lytton. Farley was not charged, and a passenger in his car, Ruby Morris, was treated for minor injuries.
Police blame Garlic for the accident. And now the family is facing funeral bills of around $8,000, according to Garlic's niece, Rebecca Godfrey. She received a police report showing Robert C. Farley as the driver of the car, but in fact Robert Farley is the owner; Aaron is his son. Allstate, the insurance carrier listed, told Godfrey they don't have a record of Robert C. Farley.
The Hook was unable to locate Aaron Farley, and Robert Farley did not return phone calls.
"My uncle was an alcoholic," says Godfrey. "We brought him home a number of times. People think he had nobody. We tried to help him, but we just didn't know how."
Cecil Ray Garlic, hit by a car April 30, was the second Garlic brother to be killed while drinking. His older brother, Billy, was hit by a train 16 years ago.
PHOTO COURTESY CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE