Houston man charged with vehicular homicide in teen’s death

bpurser@macon.comSeptember 18, 2013 

Danny Ray Wheeler

WARNER ROBINS -- A 45-year-old Houston County man was charged Wednesday with felony vehicular homicide following an April crash in which a 17-year-old was killed during a drag race.

Danny Ray Wheeler was also arrested on misdemeanor charges of drunken driving, furnishing alcohol to minors, racing, speeding, weaving and failure to maintain lane, reckless driving and no seat belt, according to Houston County online jail records.

No bond was set for the felony charge, the online records indicated. A $14,400 bond was set on the misdemeanor charges.

Walter Sammons, a Warner Robins attorney representing Wheeler, declined to comment.

Wheeler is accused of supplying alcohol to minors during a birthday and after-prom party and initiating an illegal drag race that resulted in the death of Colten Winkler, a Houston County sheriff’s incident report stated.

The teenager was the front seat passenger in the 2010 Ford Mustang driven by Wheeler at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour on a 45 mph road, according to an arrest warrant. The driver of the other vehicle, Coty Robinson, of Perry, has not been charged.

Wheeler, who lost a leg in the April 21 crash on Duke Road near its intersection with Toomer Road, had a blood alcohol level of .148 -- nearly twice the legal limit of .08, the sheriff’s accident report shows. Winkler’s blood alcohol level was .15, according to Houston County Coroner Danny Galpin.

Shari and Mike Winkler, the teenager’s biological parents, had asked a close friend, Donna Thompson, to start an online petition for the governor and district attorney to investigate why charges had not been placed against Wheeler more than four months after the crash. Houston County authorities said they sought the warrants after the investigation was completed, and the delay was the toxicology report.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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