By KELLY WHEELER
City News Service
A man accused of running his car onto a La Jolla sidewalk and hitting three teenagers before crashing into a bakery was acting “erratic” and wanted to know how his vehicle got inside the business, a witness testified Monday.
Brad Partington testified that he was leaving work last Aug. 15 about 6:30 p.m. when he heard a “metal on metal” sound and saw a car driven by Ronald Troyer hit a roundabout and run onto the sidewalk on La Jolla Boulevard.
Troyer's car hit an electrical box and the teenagers before crashing into the Cass Street Cafe, Partington testified.
The witness said he saw two victims go up in the air after being hit and observed a man inside the bakery with a head wound.
Troyer said “What happened? What happened?” as he got out of his car inside the bakery, Partington testified.
The witness said Troyer grabbed some papers from inside the car and started to walk away from the crash before being detained.
“I heard him say, ‘Someone has stolen my car. What is my car doing here?’ “ Partington testified.
The witness said he couldn't tell if Troyer was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but said the defendant was acting “erratic” and wondering what was going on right after the crash.
Troyer, 66, is charged with driving under the influence of drugs causing great bodily injuries, reckless driving causing injuries, failing to perform his duties following an accident that caused permanent injuries and driving on a suspended license.
He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney David Uyar.
One of the injured teenagers, Alani Aguerre, testified that she heard a friend yell “Watch out!” just before the accident.
The crash dragged the 14-year-old girl into the bakery, where she was found pinned under Troyer's car. She said she was in a coma for two weeks and her speech was checked when she woke up.
“They (doctors) just wanted to see if my brain was working well,” the girl testified.
She suffered injuries to her left shin, hip and right arm.
Another 14-year-old victim, Myles Polger, said he was walking with a group from a Mexican restaurant to a friend's house when the accident happened.
The boy, now 15, said he saw Troyer's car hit the roundabout at an angle at about 30-35 mph.
“It was going pretty fast,” the witness said, recalling that he blacked out and was on the ground, with arm and leg injuries, when he regained consciousness.
A passenger in Troyer's car, Jeffrey Stewart, testified Friday that he tried to get the defendant to pull over just before the crash.
Stewart, who described Troyer as a friend, said they were headed toward a scenic vista to look at the surf when the driver spotted a classic 1956 Chevrolet carrying some young people and then, without explanation, took his foot off the accelerator and coasted at a slow speed.
When the vehicle struck the curb of a roundabout hard, Stewart suggested to Troyer that he stop driving, he said.
“Now I'm very concerned,” Stewart said.
He said that instead of stopping, Troyer straightened out the Chrysler sedan, “put the pedal to the metal” and took his hands off the steering wheel.
“He just kind of punched it and fell back in his seat,” Stewart said. “I feel there is something wrong with this man.''
He said he tried to put his own foot on the brake and braced for a collision.
The defendant's eyes showed a “piercing madness” and “some type of anger,” Stewart said.
He said Troyer did not say a word as they “barreled” over another roundabout, hit the teens and went into the bakery, or in the moments immediately after the crash.
Uyar told jurors in his opening statement that Troyer tested positive for marijuana, which is not disputed by the defense.
Stewart testified that he and the defendant smoked marijuana the day before the crash. He said he did not see Troyer until about 15 minutes before the crash.
“We were as sober as we are right now,” said Stewart, who testified that he is a recovering alcoholic.
The attorneys in the case also described Troyer as a former alcoholic. His lawyer, David Thompson, said his client smoked marijuana ever morning, but had so little in his system at the time of the crash that it could not have accounted for what happened.
A forensic toxicologist, Maureen Black, testified that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, breaks down quickly in the bloodstream, so the defendant probably had more at the time of the crash than he did when tested three hours later.
Uyar previously told a judge that Troyer was convicted twice in 2005 for driving under the influence. He also has convictions in 2006, 2007 and 2008 for driving with a suspended license, according to DMV records.