Man charged with killing pedestrian in Puyallup was taking five medications

Staff writerApril 21, 2014 

A man charged with killing a pedestrian in a Puyallup crosswalk last week was taking five prescription medications and had been in an accident earlier that day, according to court records.

Joseph Schaffer, 64, of Olympia, pleaded not guilty Monday to vehicular homicide in the death of Christopher Kerns, 42. He was ordered jailed in lieu of $500,000.

Kerns was struck in a crosswalk at River Road and North Meridian Street Thursday night near the Ford dealership where he’d worked for 14 months.

When police arrived, an officer found Schaffer in the dealership’s bathroom washing his face. Schaffer allegedly said he ran a red light and his brakes weren’t working.

He “stated he didn’t know what he had hit but it was something,” charging papers show.

Police said they immediately suspected Schaffer was under the influence of drugs because he couldn’t keep his head up, slurred his speech and was distracted.

A paramedic at the scene of the crash advised police that Schaffer had been involved in another car wreck earlier that day on Interstate 5. Details of that accident were not immediately available.

Schaffer allegedly told police he was driving home from Olympia and was arguing on his cell phone just before he struck Kerns with his 2002 Lexus.

The car also hit another vehicle in the intersection, jumped a curb and hit a sign and four vehicles, three of which were in the Ford dealership’s parking lot.

Kerns’ boss described him as a devout, hard-working man.

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