City Desk

Beloved D.C. Council Staffer Dies in Baltimore Drowning

Desi Deschaine, 29, a fixture in local politicking over the last decade and recently a staff member for Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, has died after drowning in Baltimore.

Jeff Coudriet, a top Evans deputy, says that Deschaine had gone on a Chesapeake Bay boat trip Sunday with a man he'd been dating. The boat had returned to Baltimore's Inner Harbor Sunday night when Deschaine left the boat at about 10:30 p.m. He was not seen or heard from again. "In the morning Monday is when we found he was missing. He obviously didn't turn up at work," Coudriet says.

Baltimore police recovered a body from the harbor this morning, a department spokesperson says, and Coudriet says a positive identification has been made. Deschaine's parents arrived in Baltimore late last night.

In a Facebook message posted Sunday, Deschaine wrote that he was "getting ready for an amazing day boating in Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay...and hope our friends join for what will be an awesome and amazing afternoon on the water!!"

"We're just obviously stunned," Coudriet says. "We're grief-stricken."

Evans, about to head into today's council legislative meeting, was not able to comment, but did say he'd been in touch with Baltimore Mayor Sharon Sheila Dixon about the incident.

On a personal note, LL's known him since 2004, when Deschaine was a neighborhood services staffer for Mayor Anthony A. Williams and LL was a City Paper intern covering community meetings. For all the years LL has known him, he's never once seen him without a smile on his face—one of the genuinely friendliest and kindest people in the small world of District politics.

A graduate of Catholic University, Deschaine was active in the Democratic State Committee, the Gertrude Stein Democrats, the Logan Circle Community Association, and numerous other groups. After leaving the Williams administration, Deschaine worked for the Washington National Opera before returning to the Wilson Building last year to handle press and outreach for Evans.

Please put your memories of Desi in the comments.

UPDATE, 12:05 P.M.: Evans has released a statement: "Desi Deschaine was a bright, bubbly, enthusiastic, and wonderful person who you just could not help but love. I had the great pleasure of knowing and working with him not just on my staff, but on my campaigns, and over the years with Mayor Williams’ staff, the Opera and numerous other capacities and roles. He brought his passion, energy and good spirits to everything and everyone he touched over the years. My staff and I share the grief of and extend our condolences to Desi’s family and friends, and deeply mourn his untimely loss."

UPDATE, 1:55 P.M.: A statement from Stein Club president Jeff Richardson: "Desi Deschaine was a bright and shining star in the DC Democratic Party and in the DC activist community. Desi involved himself in every sector of DC society and loved to build bridges and facilitate connections across communities. Desi will be missed, but through the joy he shared with us and his deep commitment to the District his spirit will live on."

UPDATE, 5:20 P.M.: Friend Phil Attey has organized an impromptu vigil for Desi this evening at 7:30 in Logan Circle.

Photo from Facebook

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  • Jim Slattery

    I second what you say about Desi always having a smile on his face and being genuinely friendly. He will be missed.

  • Sylvia

    Desi, peace and blessings to you! You will be remembered for your work and the lives you touched. My prayers are with your family and loved ones and friends.

    Sylvia Brown

  • Michael Akin

    You would be hard-pressed to find anyone more full of life than Desi. From his time doing Community Relations for Mayor Williams, to his work with the Opera, his board service at St. Mary’s Court, and most recently as Communications Director for Councilmember Evans, Desi was a constant presence at community events. He was always someone we could count on. Bringing a huge smile and even bigger heart, Desi never let us down. Let us all take a moment to remember a great man and a great friend.

  • Jonathan O’Connell

    Never met anyone nicer than Desi in this city. Always, always had a smile on his face when I ran into him, no matter the politicking or city business was happening that day. Just terrible news.

  • leah

    desi and i weren't close but we lived in the same dorm and worked together in college. he was just as everyone descibed - sweet and always friendly. when we were avoiding doing real work, we talked about traveling. he convinced me to add iceland to my list of must-dos as he had traveled there during a school break. it's still on my list... inspired by him, even though i haven't talked to him in almost 10 years.

  • Alan Heymann

    Truly tragic. Never saw Desi without a smile on his face. He had the unique ability to make everyone around him feel great about themselves.

  • Neil Alpert

    Desi and I were best friends for a decade, and there was nobody I could imagine being closer to then Desi. All of the positive comments that have been written are 100% true. He was truly special, and I know everyone that met him will forever feel blessed for knowing him.

  • Kristen Barden

    Desi was a gift and will be sorely missed. He had a way to brighten your day and make you feel terrific about yourself. I hope the police will investigate this fully and find out what happened on that boat and why his friends didn't report it.

  • Rana Silver

    I loved when Desi came to CUA. He just brightened everything around him and always made a gloomy girl like me feel like everything was going to be alright. He was truly an angel and it is too early for him to return home. Desi will be deeply missed. And I think what we can all take from this is to reach out to some old friends as often as you can. We are all so busy, but you just never know...

  • Gene inger

    Desi's many friends in South Florida are grieving for his loss too. Always a smile; always the life of the party; he will be so missed not only for his friendhip but for his yet-to-be-seen contributions to better us all. God rest his soul.

  • dorinda

    am still in shock. I remember reading his FB posting on Sunday morning and thinking "Desi is going to have a great time in Baltimore Harbor" and then I find out he died. I am desolate. We bonded when I worked as a Special Assistant in the Exec. Office of Mayor Williams and we remained in contact ever since then. He found out that I had studied ... Read Moreopera and loved to attend operatic performances. After that, he facilitated many outings for me to attend my favorite opera performances. Now, more than ever, we must all realize that we're not guaranteed tomorrow or even the next hour. May he rest in peace and may we all be grateful for each day that we have until we join the loved ones who have gone before us. Desi will be missed by many.

  • Jennifer Cerillo-SaintOnge

    I went to High School with Desi and am so devastated to hear of his untimely passing. I had not yet gotten the chance to really see him since we graduated. He was always so friendly and genuinely a good person. I feel that he was trying to make a difference for people with his enthusiasm for the Democratic process.
    I had been folowing his Facebook and we shared messages once in a while. I can only begin to imagine how the people closest to him must feel right now and I pray they will find comfort in hearing how loved Desi was by many.

  • Willie Flowers

    This is sad news. My prayers are with his family and the local political community. I did not know Desi well or for a long time but I remember him as kind, friendly, bright and on the move.

  • Denise Reed

    Desi was never without a kind word and a smile. He was always very involved and on the scene, making things happen! I saw his Facebook entry on Sunday and remember thinking how wonderful a day he was going to have. Such an incredible loss to us all. He will not soon be forgotten.

  • Glenn Marcus

    Whether it was trying to get a baseball team back to DC, or working for a myriad of candidates and causes, Desi was a
    total joy. It is hard to believe we will never see his
    rosy cheeks and thousand watt smile again.

  • Karyn Le Blanc

    I've known Desi since he worked in Community Relations for Mayor Williams. Everytime I saw him at a meeting or just passing on the street I was blessed with that big beautiful grin that would break out over his soft and kind face. I will miss that smile so very much. God bless him, his family, and friends.

  • Juan Manuel Thompson

    There is much to remember and much to be thankful for as we remember Desi and the way he shared his life with those around him. Each of us gives gifts of ourselves to those we share life with. These are gifts that no one can take away. And though he is gone, these gifts remain with us and with all residents of the District of Columbia. He will be missed......

  • Robert

    I am heart broken for the news. We really are loosing a genuine great person. I ran into him on Friday and he told me how happy he was. I cannot believe he is gone, I'll miss him badly.

  • Tania

    I knew Desi in many different capacities, most recently on the State Committee. I'm so saddened by this... we have lost big! He was a great guy... I will genuinely miss his presence not only on the DCDSC, but also his voice and energy on the political scene. Resquiat in pace.

  • Grace L. Ramirez

    Desi and I went to CUA together and were friends during our first few years as young professionals in DC. He was always so energetic and full of life. I really enjoyed his company. Desi was a true friend and a great person. He will be missed greatly. My condolences to his family and all of us- his friends.

  • Barbara Holtz

    I went to school with Desi. I remember hanging out with him in middle school and high school and can't believe the news. It's a total shock! I just read on his Facebook Sunday that he was going to Baltimore Harbor with his friends and thought how lucky. May he rest in peace.

  • Maria Angelica

    Desi was an adorable, happy and warm person...I'll remember him dearly...when I got the news this morning, my heart sank and I wish I could've spent more time with him...but I'll always remember the fun times we did spend together...

    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family...

  • Glen

    I've met Desi at a few community events. He was always nice, friendly and known to crack a good joke or two.

    And I remember having any issue with a service company in the District and Desi was quick to reach out and help resolve the issue.

    My condolences to his family and friends. Keep his spirit alive.

  • Keith

    Desi was one of those people who was so sincerely stoked on life that you couldn't help but catch a little of his joy, even if you were having the worst day. I didn't respond to his email inviting me to the harbor this past weekend. I just wish I could have spoken to him one more time. He was a great person and a wonderful friend. When they built him they broke the mold.

  • Sharona


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  • Laurie Collins

    I first met Desi at Col Brooks Tavern at a political party. I was sitting at a table drinking beer with friends. I heard my name--not just someone calling me to get my attention--but SINGING my name. I wasn't sure I was hearing it, but there was Desi and his friends at a table across the way singing my name. All of them with big smiles on their faces.

    It was adorable, they were adorable, and he will always be adorable.

    X, --LC

  • Virginia

    When you read the paper in the morning, you never expect to see an article about someone you've known involved in a tragedy such as what I read this morning. It is a great sadness that such a spirit as Desi is no longer with us. Desi was every bit as he has been described on this page - overflowing with life, exuberance and a truly infectious spirit for living life to the fullest. I knew him briefly but even as a casual acquaintance Desi is remembered. You wouldn't forget him if you'd ever met him. My heartfelt condolences to his family and all his close friends.