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Santa Rosa motorcyclist killed in Highway 12 crash was just out for a ride

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Darlene Russell had a feeling something was wrong when her husband, Bret Russell, didn’t return home late Sunday night from a motorcycle ride.

So she and her sister jumped in the car and began looking for him, driving all over the couple’s Rincon Valley neighborhood.

They were stopped about 10:30 p.m. by police barricades and flashing lights near the intersection of Highway 12 and Middle Rincon Road – about a mile from home. Someone had crashed a motorcycle up ahead, an officer told them.

Worried it was her husband, Darlene Russell got out of the car, bolted past the roadblock and ran toward the scene. About 100 yards shy of emergency officials she stopped and slumped onto the grass.

“I didn’t want to see any more,” she said Monday. “I got close enough.”

Her fears were confirmed when another officer approached, asked her name and informed her a chaplain was on the way. Her husband had been killed.

“It was terrible,” she said. “We decided to go look for him. And we found him.”

The crash, which closed the state highway to traffic until 9 a.m. Monday, occurred about 10:20 p.m., police said, when the driver of a 2000 Chevy Suburban pulled onto the highway to make a left turn from South Boas Drive.

Russell, 57, who was eastbound on his 2010 Harley-Davidson, hit the Suburban and was thrown onto the roadway. He was unresponsive when officers arrived.

The Suburban driver, Fernando Izquierdotineo, 51, of Santa Rosa, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.

Bret Allen Russell was a longtime Santa Rosa resident and owner of an eponymous construction company. He graduated from Montgomery High School and was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing.

“So many people loved him,” his wife said. “None of us can think of anyone who didn’t.”

She said he had been riding motorcycles since he was a kid, starting out on dirt bikes.

Sometime Sunday night he rolled out the red Harley and went for a ride.

“It was a beautiful evening with a full moon and everything,” his wife said. “He finally had a good day to ride.”

Darlene Russell said she worried when he didn’t come home at a reasonable time.

She and her sister, Kathleen, drove around looking for him. They ran into the roadblock at the 7-Eleven store on Highway 12.

Right away, she sensed her husband was involved.

“I just had a feeling,” she said. “He should have been home.”

In addition to his wife of 16 years, Russell leaves behind two children, Matthew, 21, and Emily, 15, and three brothers, Lon, of Georgetown, Texas, and Bob and Cliff of Santa Rosa. He is also survived by three stepchildren whom he helped raise, and two step-siblings.

The crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Kenny Ferrigno at 707-543-3636.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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