Driver of SUV in church van fatalities was on probation for attempted robbery, burglary convictions
Tyler James Schaeffer, 21, of Seymour, had been convicted on separate charges of attempted robbery and burglary in Blount County and was currently on probation.
According to a THP report, a 1997 Chevy Blazer driven by 21-year-old Tyler J. Schaeffer, of Seymour, was traveling southbound on Chapman Highway and crossed over the center line on the highway and struck the van head on in the right hand lane on the northbound side, causing it to catch fire.
The driver of the van, identified as 45-year-old Jeff Trussell, the church’s youth director, and 16-year-old Courtney Kaliszewski, a passenger in the van, were killed.
“In the best-case scenario, there’s still a potential for a felony charge,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Randy Martin told The Daily Times. He said THP Lt. Clinton Valentine was meeting with prosecutors to discuss possible charges.
Martin said a “powdery substance” was found in Schaeffer’s vehicle and has been sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for analysis.
According to the Blount County District Attorney’s Office and Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Schaeffer had been convicted on separate charges of attempted robbery and burglary in Blount County and was currently on probation.
On Jan. 18, 2011, Schaeffer was arrested by Blount County Sheriff’s Office deputies and charged with the June 22, 2010, aggravated burglary of a Louisville residence.
On March 4, 2011, Alcoa Police Department detectives arrested Schaeffer on a charge of aggravated robbery in connection with the Feb. 19, 2011, robbery of Mayra Morento Insurance, 4512 Airport Highway.
Schaeffer pleaded guilty to the two charges and was sentenced by Blount County Circuit Court Judge David R. Duggan to serve two years for the attempted robbery and four years for the residential burglary, to be served consecutively. At the time of sentencing, Schaeffer had already served three months in the Blount County Jail and was placed on supervised probation with the Tennessee Department of Corrections. He was released on May 3, 2011, and was placed on probation for six years.
He was still under supervised probation at the time of the wreck Sunday.
Schaeffer was transported from the scene to University of Tennessee Medical Center Hospital. When contacted for a condition by a reporter, a hospital official said there was no information to release.