Families of church van crash victims file suit against driver

Families of church van crash victims file suit against driver

Posted:
Tyler Schaeffer (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) Tyler Schaeffer (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
The accident occurred on Chapman Highway and Zion Hill Church Road. The accident occurred on Chapman Highway and Zion Hill Church Road.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - After a church van crash on Chapman Highway killed a teenage girl and her youth pastor, the families of the two victims are filing suit against the man accused of causing that accident.

Tyler Schaeffer, 21, the man police said crossed the center line and hit the van head on, is currently in the Sevier County jail for burglary.

He has yet to be charged in the crash, though investigators said they found drugs in his SUV.

Now the parents of Courteney Kaliszewski, 16, and the wife of Jeff Trussell, 45 are suing Schaeffer in civil court. Each family is asking for $10 million.

The lawsuits accuse Schaeffer of multiple traffic offenses including reckless driving and driving under the influence.

The Kaliszewskis state that as a direct, proximate and legal result of Schaeffer's negligence, Courteney endured pain and suffering and they have lost the love and companionship of their daughter, as well as incurring medical and funeral expenses.

Trussell's wife and son are seeking damages including, but not limited to, lost financial support and the loss of love and companionship.

If the families can prove in court that Schaeffer is responsible, he won't be able to legally drive a car until he pays what he owes to the families, which could be up to $20 million.

The families said that is their goal: to make sure he'll never have the chance to do it again.

The families of the victims are asking for a jury trial.

Schaeffer is currently being held on a $50,000 bond for the burglary charge in Sevier County.

He's been convicted of burglary and robbery charges three times in Blount and Knox counties.

He was released on probation back in April.

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