Houston County man indicted in teen’s drag-racing death

bpurser@macon.comNovember 20, 2013 

PERRY -- A grand jury has indicted a 45-year-old Houston County man on two counts of vehicular homicide in a teen’s drag racing death in April.

Danny Ray Wheeler was also indicted Tuesday on two counts of serious injury by vehicle and one count each of drunken driving, drunken driving less safe, reckless driving, speeding, racing, failure to maintain a lane, furnishing alcohol to minors, and seat belt violation.

Wheeler is accused of supplying alcohol to minors during a birthday and after-prom party and initiating a drag race that resulted in the death of 17-year-old Colten Winkler. The teenager was close friends with Tristan Wheeler, the youngest son of Danny and Staci Wheeler.

Winkler was the front-seat passenger in a 2010 Ford Mustang driven by Wheeler, who lost a leg in the April 21 crash on Duke Road near its intersection with Toomer Road.

One of the vehicular homicide charges is based on the underlying charge of drunken driving, while the second count is based on the underlying charge of reckless driving, according to the 12-count indictment.

Wheeler had a blood alcohol level of 0.148 -- nearly twice the legal limit of .08, according to a Houston County sheriff’s report. Winkler’s blood alcohol level was 0.15, according to the coroner.

The charges of serious injury by vehicle are related to the backseat passenger, Michael Spence, in the Ford Mustang. They are based on underlying charges of drunken driving and reckless driving. Spence suffered fractures in the scapula and sternum, the indictment said.

The driver of the other vehicle, Coty Robinson of Perry, was not charged in the incident.

Wheeler, who is in a wheelchair as a result of the crash, is free on a $15,000 bond pending trial.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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