Family of man killed in suspected DUII crash in Wilsonville: 'He - KPTV - FOX 12

Family of man killed in suspected DUII crash in Wilsonville: 'He lived to help others'

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Chris Kelleher, left. (Family photo) Chris Kelleher, left. (Family photo)

A grieving family is sharing about their husband and father, who was killed Friday when he was hit by a suspected drunken driver in Wilsonville.

Chris Kelleher’s family said he was pulled over along Highway 551 to give supplies to the homeless – something he and his wife had done in that very spot countless times.

But this time, Oregon State Police said when he stepped out of his van, he was hit and killed by another driver.

Kelleher’s wife, Gina, was with him when the crash happened.

“He got out of the driver’s side and got out and took two steps, and then he was gone,” Gina Kelleher told FOX 12 through tears.

She said another driver who was just ahead of them stopped to help.

“He wouldn’t let me walk up to him, and he told me that I had to stay back,” she said. “He checked if Chris was breathing and he wasn’t.”

Police arrested Kenneth Pepperling at the scene. Pepperling is now facing several charges, including manslaughter and DUII. Court records show he has a criminal record including two previous DUII convictions.

“I just wish to God he hadn’t have hit him, there’s just something that shouldn’t have happened,” Gina Kelleher said.

Not only has she lost her husband, she’s also fighting what doctors believe is an operable brain tumor. Her husband was her sole caretaker, and now his children worry about providing for her medical needs.

“The third biopsy’s coming up – but he paid for everything and we want to make sure she can keep the same place and keep everything paid for as if he’s still there,” said Chris’s son, Tony Kelleher.

The family said Chris Kelleher had a big heart and lived to help others. He loved the outdoors and would spend two or three days a week with his son on a family property in the woods in Sandy.

“That’s where I will remember him the most,” Tony Kelleher said. “We would just go up there away from everybody, look at the views, listen to the fire.”

“He loved to joke around, he always had a goofy smile on his face – always corny jokes, too, of course. If you said, ‘I’ll be right back,’ he’d say ‘I’ll be left front,’” laughed Chris’s daughter, Amanda Kelleher. “He didn’t have much to give, but he did what he could to help other people, and the world needs more of that.”

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