An Alton man has pleaded guilty to drunk driving that killed a Wood River couple, and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Jeffrey Rynders, 28, of Alton was driving a Nissan Sentra on Landmarks Boulevard near the Clark Bridge in Alton when he failed to yield while making a left turn on Sept. 15, 2013. He collided with a motorcycle, killing 66-year-old Gary Wright and sending his wife, Lora Wright, to the hospital. Lora Wright, 63, later died of her injuries.
Rynders was charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death and lesser charges, including unlawful possession of a controlled substance. The other charges were dropped in return for the plea on the two fatal DUI counts.
“I am hopeful that today’s successful conviction will provide the family with some comfort and closure on this extremely difficult chapter in their lives,” said Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons.
Rynders remains in custody at the Madison County Jail. He will be sentenced at a later date before Madison County Circuit Judge Kyle Napp, following a pre-sentencing investigation. He faces six to 20 years in prison, and will be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence.
Rynders was sued by the family for wrongful death in 2014. In the suit, the family alleged that Rynders attempted to run away from the scene after the crash, and later admitted to drinking two pints of vodka while working at Cheapies, an Alton tire store, before getting behind the wheel, according to news reports. They also named the tire store in the suit. Its current status was not immediately known.