Man arrested in DUI suspected of crash that killed 2 Penngrove mini horses

Authorities are investigating whether an Oakland man arrested on suspicion of drunken driving early Saturday is responsible for an earlier hit-and-run that killed a Penngrove woman’s two miniature horses.

The CHP does believe that Ronald Rennert’s Honda CRV was the vehicle that smashed through a small corral just after 2 a.m. and struck both of Juanita Carrillo’s horses, Scout and Big Red, Sgt. Andrew Henkens said. The two animals were later euthanized.

Car parts that matched the CRV were found at the corral and the vehicle had front-end damage that included tufts of animal fur, Henkens said. The CHP is investigating whether Rennert, 39, was driving the car at the time of the crash, he said.

Rennert was arrested by Cotati Police Officer Bennet Knight early Saturday morning on the shoulder of southbound Highway 101 near Petaluma, said Cotati Police Chief Michael Parish.

Knight had spotted Rennert driving westbound on West Sierra Avenue and noticed his vehicle had front-end damage, though the officer at the time did not know about the Penngrove hit-and-run, Parish said.

The officer saw Rennert’s vehicle swerving across traffic lines on the roadway, Parish said. Knight then pulled Rennert over without incident.

“He appeared severely intoxicated … to the point that he had trouble holding a conversation with the officer,” Parish said. Officers took a blood sample from Rennert, but have not received the results of the test, he said.

Rennert was booked into the Sonoma County Jail and his car was towed, he said.

Carrillo said she was told by officers that Knight later recounted the arrest to fellow Cotati police personnel.

One official noted the deaths of the horses had been making the rounds on social media. Knight then contacted the CHP, she said.

Carrillo, a 59-year-old woman who owns a dog-grooming business, said she has been overwhelmed by community support. Her son bought Scout about 8 years ago and she had Big Red for about 6 years.

Her original Facebook post on the crash attracted more than 5,000 shares. Strangers have stopped by her house to pay their respects to the horses and offer their sympathy. One woman and her daughter brought a card and candy.

“Just when you start to lose a little faith in humanity, it’s been restored quickly,” Carrillo said.

“Their eyes were all teared up,” Carrillo said.

Her landlord paid the veterinarian who euthanized her horses and then handled disposal of the carcasses while she went inside her house and lowered the blinds.

The CHP officers stayed on the scene well after they finished their investigation to help provide emotional support as she placed blankets over both horses.

Carrillo and her son later put up two crosses on the property with the names of both horses spelled out in purple paint.

The crosses held two containers with fresh flowers placed inside.

While she took a picture on Easter Sunday of the crosses, her dog Jessie came over to sit in between the two memorials, staring straight at the camera. “She just took it upon herself to sit there when I took the picture,” Carrillo added later noted about her dog in an email.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette