Judge orders driver in café crash to stand trial


By Kelly Wheeler

City News Service

A transient accused of driving his car onto a La Jolla sidewalk, seriously injuring three teens, before crashing into a bakery and hurting two adults, was ordered Thursday to stand trial on felony reckless driving and hit-and-run charges.

After a two-day preliminary hearing, Judge Bernard Revak ruled that enough evidence had been presented for 66-year-old Ronald Troyer to stand trial on the felony charges and three misdemeanor counts of driving on a suspended license.

Troyer faces a maximum of 12 years in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney David Uyar.

Uyar told the 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.

San Diego police Officer Robert Wells testified today that Troyer displayed signs at the crash scene consistent with someone who was on drugs.

Wells said he smelled “an alcoholic odor” coming from the defendant, and also said Troyer had very strong body odor.

“I asked him if he remembered the collision,” the officer testified. “He said he didn’t remember the incident.”

Troyer’s blood was drawn at the hospital and tested negative for alcohol but positive for the active ingredient in marijuana, according to court testimony.

Detective John Letteri testified that Troyer told him that he hadn’t had any alcohol the day of the Aug. 15 crash but had smoked marijuana that morning.

Letteri said Troyer told him that he had blacked out just before the crash.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m going to fix whatever I did,’” Letteri testified.

Troyer said he knew he shouldn’t have been driving and that the same blackout scenario happened to him five years ago.

A man who was riding with Troyer said the defendant hit a curb in a roundabout just before the 7 p.m. accident, sped up in anger and floored it’’ while taking his hands off the steering wheel, thrusting the car onto the sidewalk in the 5500 block of La Jolla Boulevard and into the Cass Street Cafe & Bakery, Letteri testified.

One teenage girl was pinned under Troyer’s car for a time and two boys suffered broken bones, Uyar said.

A man and his wife sitting at a window-side table at the bakery were also injured.

Troyer’s passenger — who quietly walked away from the crash scene before being contacted days later — said he didn’t think the defendant blacked out and was just “ghost-riding” the car before it crashed, according to the detective.

Revak said Troyer tried to walk away and avoid responsibility after the crash, telling witnesses “someone stole my car.”

Troyer will be back in court Nov. 24 for a readiness conference. Trial was tentatively set for Dec. 3.