February 7, 2000
KENMORE--David Schaffer, 39, a Kirkland software engineer whose blood alcohol level was measured at 0.30, pleaded innocent to a vehicular homicide charge on Monday, Jan. 31.
Retired Bellevue school teacher Corrinne M. Tevis, 61, was killed in Kenmore on Jan. 24 when Schaffer's 1996 Nissan Pathfinder swerved across the center line on Simmonds Rd., smashing into Tevis' Subaru sedan. Police said witnesses following Schaffer's car reported he had been speeding and passing cars on southbound Juanita Dr. NE before turning left onto Simmonds Rd.
A day after the accident, King County spokesperson John Urquhart said he expected the investigation to last several weeks before any certain determination of liability. He said toxicology reports sometimes take 6-8 weeks, the assigned investigators were backlogged because they handle every vehicular homicide investigation in King County, and several experts would have to check for potential mechanical problems in the Nissan.
But Schaffer's admission to police at the scene, that he had shared a bottle of champagne two hours earlier, apparently accelerated the toxicology report.
Schaffer's blood-alcohol level was measured from a blood draw by King County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Torres less than an hour after the 4:30 wreck. Experts say a 0.30 measurement is close to a blackout or unconscious level for most people, and a 0.40 level can be fatal. The state's current legal blood-alcohol level for driving is 0.08.
Vehicular homicide carries a standard sentence of two years in prison.