Details about a horrific DUI crash near Torrey Pines State Beach finally emerged as two people were killed when 20-year-old Christopher Ray Schmittel allegedly drove his vehicle 120 mph while under the influence.

bent metal guardrail after DUI accident

Schmittel, of Moreno Valley stands accused of driving his 2020 Subaru WRX through a metal guardrail on Torrey Pines Road just before 11:00 PM on Wednesday, April 25, 2023. The Times of San Diego reported that two victims, Joshua Manzanares and Johnny Punzalan, both 19-years-old, were thrown from Schmittel’s vehicle and died at the scene.

According to prosecutors, Schmittel’s car reached triple digit speeds while driving under the influence of alcohol, Xanax, psychedelic mushrooms and marijuana. Aaron McCray, one of the surviving passengers, testified at a preliminary hearing that he and other men left the Riverside County city of Wildomar with Schmittel behind the wheel earlier that day. He also testified that he drove as fast as 110 mph on the Ortega Highway, a winding road in the hills. He repeatedly had to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid having to slow down on the highway’s curves. Once he reached the 5 Freeway headed toward San Diego, he drove at speeds of up to 140 mph.

Upon arriving at Torrey Pines State Beach, McCray testified that he saw Schmittel consume alcohol and psychedelic mushrooms. A blood draw was performed and found Schmittel’s blood-alcohol level around .08%, which is the legal driving limit in California for a 21-year-old. Schmittel however, was underage. McCray testified that Schmittel claimed he was good to drive, and when McCray woke up in the car post-accident, the two men who had been sitting next to him in the back seat (Manzanares and Punzalan) were no longer there.

“Two young men were cut down in their prime,” said Singleton Schreiber Managing Partner Gerald Singleton. “This is just an absolute tragedy, and we hope the parents, siblings, friends and family of these two young men find comfort.”

Singleton Schreiber’s San Diego DUI injury attorneys can be reached at 619-367-7768 or by emailing

Manzanares and Punzalan Killed In Torrey Pines DUI Crash

The facts of this case came out in a preliminary hearing where Schmittel was ordered to stand trial. Officer Dominic Amato of the San Diego Police Department, one of the officers who first responded to the awful scene of the crash, said that once the car struck the center median, it then rammed into the guardrail, dropped about 20-25 feet to the beach below, rolled over and landed at least 150 feet from the roadway.

The debris surrounding the destroyed Subaru included cans of alcohol. Schmittel’s attorney asked the judge to dismiss the murder charges, arguing a gross vehicular manslaughter charge would be more appropriate. Unfortunately for Schmittel, Judge Aaron Katz disagreed. Deputy District Attorney Hailey Williams pointed out that Schmittel had almost hit several other vehicles during the four-hour drive from Riverside to San Diego. Judge Katz ordered Schmittel to be charged with murder, pointing out his “sheer callousness” in how he drove his vehicle.

San Diego Wrongful Death Cases

San Diego Car Accidents happen regularly, but rarely are they this deadly, or involving such dangerous behavior. Schmittel not only drove under the influence, he drove under the influence of several different substances, and drove up to 140 mph. He now faces two counts of second-degree murder, even though he’s only 20 years old. Such charges carry decades in prison. A total of six witnesses were called during the hearing, but Aaron McCray’s statement stood out the most. He claimed that first responders had to cut the door off of the car to get him out because he was stuck inside. He said he needed 18 hours of surgery for a broken femur, hip, and ankle as well as for internal bleeding. He also claimed he was unable to stand for four months after the crash.

“These young men thought they were having a good time, and instead two lost their lives, one suffered serious personal injuries, and the other faces 30 years behind bars,” added Gerald Singleton. “It’s our hope that these families heal during the grieving process and find a DUI accident injury attorney who can help them sort through the legal process.”

Singleton Schreiber’s San Diego DUI injury attorneys can be reached at 619-367-7768 or by emailing