Repeat DUI offender convicted of murder in fiery crash

EL CAJON, Calif. — A man who drove drunk and at high speed down a curving Campo roadway, causing a crash that killed his two passengers, was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder and other charges.

Ryan Renz, 26, faces up to 30 years to life behind bars when he is sentenced Dec. 20 for the Jan. 25, 2017, crash that killed his friends, 23-year-old Johnny Ray Meyer Jr. and 26-year-old Dillon Cody Wiltfong.

Prosecutors said Renz — who was on probation and driving on a suspended license due to a prior DUI conviction — was drunk when he crashed Wiltfong’s Volkswagen Jetta into a tree on Buckman Springs Road, near Lake Morena Drive, in the evening hours of Jan. 25.

One of the victims was ejected and the other was trapped inside the vehicle. Renz suffered minor injuries.

Deputy District Attorney Laura Evans said Renz and the victims drank throughout the afternoon of Jan. 25 before the defendant got behind the wheel and drove somewhere between 85 to 96 mph down Buckman Springs Road, then crashed the Jetta into an oak tree. The passenger’s side of the sedan — where both Meyer and Wiltfong were sitting — took the brunt of the crash, according to the prosecutor.

Evans said the high speed of the Jetta caught the attention of Border Patrol officers stationed near the scene, some of whom pursued the sedan, but were unable to stop it before the crash. Officers arrived to a “very violent scene,” in which the Jetta was found overturned and on fire, Evans said.

Mechanical issues were ruled out as a potential cause of the crash by California Highway Patrol investigators, according to the prosecutor.

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