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Van accident kills 2, injures 12 youthcomment (0)

September 27, 2012

Two people were killed and 12 others injured Sept. 16 when a van carrying youth from Cedar Grove Baptist Church, Maryville, Tenn., collided head-on with an SUV while returning from a weekend retreat in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

The driver of the van, Jeff Trussell, and teenager Courteney Kaliszewski were killed. Ten passengers ranging from middle school to college age were transported to hospitals in the area.

The driver of the SUV, 21-year-old Tyler Schaeffer of Seymour, Tenn., crossed the center line of Chapman Highway in Sevier County and struck the van head-on, causing it to catch fire. Strangers stopped to help rescue passengers in the church van and offer aid until emergency vehicles arrived.

Trussell, 45, was a member of Cedar Grove who sang in the church choir, served as a deacon and acted as a volunteer youth leader. Kaliszewski, 16, was a junior at Seymour High School and a member of the National Honor Society. She was very active in the Cedar Grove youth group and with Big Creek Missions, a Kentucky-based Christian ministry that connects churches and volunteer groups to reach out to poor communities in Appalachia.

Police officials are currently discussing possible charges against the driver of the SUV. Police said a “powdery substance” was found in Schaeffer’s SUV and sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for analysis. 


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