Defendant pleads guilty in fiery Torrey Pines fatal crash


City News Service

A bartender who drove drunk and caused a fiery rear-end collision on North Torrey Pines Road in which the other driver burned to death pleaded guilty Friday to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Michael Patrick Landri, 30, also admitted allegations of driving with a blood-alcohol content of .15 percent or higher and that his actions caused great bodily injury or death to the victim, said Deputy District Attorney Renee Palmero.

Landri faces up to 10 years in state prison when he is sentenced May 14 by Judge Eugenia Eyherabide.

According to the prosecutor, Jared Franklin Purton left work at Scripps Research Institute about 10:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and was southbound on North Torrey Pines Road when the defendant’s speeding car smashed into the back of the 33-year-old victim’s Volkswagen Passat, pushing the rear tires almost into the front of the sedan.

Both cars burst into flames and spun out of control in different directions.

A passerby pulled the defendant out of his Infiniti G35, but the victim remained trapped in his car, Palermo said. Purton — who was burned over 80 percent of his body — died at the scene.

Landri’s blood-alcohol content was measured at .16 percent — double the legal limit — after the crash, the prosecutor said.

Police said Landri and a “very drunk” male passenger were on their way home from an employee Christmas party when the accident occurred.

The prosecutor said the defendant had no prior criminal record, but not long before the crash had gotten a speeding ticket for going more than 100 mph.

Palermo said Purton was an Australian citizen in San Diego County on a work visa.

Defense attorney Brad Patton said Landri — a bartender at a local hotel — lived in Carmel Valley with his girlfriend.