Puyallup pastor struck by DUI woman while biking to help the homeless has died

Eric Renz had just finished preparing food at one homeless services location and was biking to another to help out there when Kallie James allegedly blew a stop sign and struck him. We reported about this terrible collision last week.

KIRO 7’s Terry Griffin now reports that Renz has died of his injuries. He was 66. Our deepest condolences to his friends, family and the whole Puyallup community.

The Pierce County Prosecutor announced that James will be charged with vehicular homicide. She’s scheduled to appear in court December 16.

According to court documents, which we posted in our previous report, James was allegedly told police that she could not feel the pedals. Responding officers performed field tests and determined that was “under the influence of a drug” and was not in a safe state to drive. She blamed her inability to feel the pedals on an antidepressant she was taking, but then she also apparently admitted to smoking marijuana.

She was originally charged with vehicular assault while Renz was in the hospital on a ventilator. Now that he has passed, assault will change to homicide.

Renz recently lost a campaign for the State House of Representatives to the Republican incumbent Hans Zeiger. Renz, who had retired from being a minister, ran on a platform in part based on reducing the tax burden on the poor through a more progressive taxing system, fighting climate change through a carbon tax and increasing funding for transit and bicycling.

For him to die while serving the homeless and riding his bike is just heartbreaking. It seems he really was someone who lived the values he taught and promoted in public.

His son Chris left the following message on the First Presbyterian Church of Puyallup Facebook page:

The support of friends, family, community, fellow church members, fellow political friends and argument companions, and homeless that were fed and given shelter by him has been incredible. One of the last things Dad will remember is being serenaded (along with the rest of the intensive care unit) by a beautiful cello and singing of hymns as the clouds literally parted and the sun shone through the window; it was incredibly fitting for as much as he loved music and the church.

If we are half of what Dad was in his service to others, we have accomplished much. Please honor him in the way that you see best, whether hugging your kids, feeding the hungry, providing shelter to the homeless, volunteering at the church, and giving yourself to others.

With love and absolute gratitude for Dad,

Chris (“Topher”) and Emeline

For more on Renz, be sure to read this profile by the News Tribune.

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16 Responses to Puyallup pastor struck by DUI woman while biking to help the homeless has died

  1. Ted Diamond says:

    So sorry to hear this

  2. Adam says:

    Terrible to hear this.

  3. Cheif says:

    The person who committed this murder is currently free and walking around, enjoying time with her friends and family. After a slap on the wrist nominal lockup period (eighteen months? Twenty four?) she’ll be back out again, free to consume alcohol and drive cars on our local streets.

    • JAT says:

      No question that this is a tragic set of circumstances, but your rhetoric is a bit overblown; would you have the state execute her?

      I certainly agree that a lifetime ban on driving should be available to the court, though.

      • Jeremy says:

        Would you have the state execute the pastor? The state is quite complict in this death through decades of well, we’ll just leave these here roads laying around, go cars go! as are the engineers who signed off on the outsized road designs, and so forth. Thank goodness there is now e.g. the Strong Towns organization looking to correct some of the many blunders in how our public spaces have been built.

  4. Allan says:

    There are too many sad stories. I feel very sorry for the family and friends of pastor Renz. I think the court should be able to impose a lifetime ban on driving in addition to jail time.

  5. Dave says:

    How can habitual DUI’s, if they won’t quit drinking and driving, be encouraged to permanently quit driving?

  6. Reading carefully says:

    According to the story, she was under the influence of a “drug” and admitted to using marijuana (along with an anti-depressant). I expect to read about more collisions due to marijuana use.

  7. Carl says:

    a DUI homicide should be equivalent to killing someone with a gun. People need to be held accountable for their actions before anything will change. Lock her up for a long time and never let her drive again.

  8. Virchow says:

    terrible tragedy.

    I am once again a little taken aback by the righeousness directed at the teen whose reckless negligence killed this man.

    “throwing away the key” has hardly worked with regard to gang violence and organized crime, activities that have a sinister and deliberate rationale behind them. Why would such tactics work against dangerous drivers, who are at worst aggressively negligent, not deliberately murderous.

    If we lock up every 19 year old who does something criminally stupid for their whole life, a majority of men and sizeable minority of women would be incarcerated… I mean you could argue we do that to some segments of our society, but I don’t think you can argue that it is a winning policy for anyone (other than prison guard unions… and politicians… oh, and folks who vote that imagine they can make enough rules and consequences to control their environment).

    In seriousness, I think we need to evaluate that approach and the injustices and tragedy it has led to among communities of color, rather than trying to expand our righteous fury to terrible drivers.

    An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

    • Rhonda says:

      “Virchow”, I could not have said this any better. Kallie has more years ahead of her than behind her, will putting her away for any length of time bring Eric back? Would a better way to honor this man’s life and early passing be to take her driving rights and have her speak to groups about her experience and what she has learned? We can certainly pass this on and learn from this.

      • Dave says:

        Fine–just let her live out the sixty-odd years she has left WITHOUT EVER LEGALLY BEING ABLE TO DRIVE AN AUTOMOBILE AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. SGG says:

    She should do some real hard time and not just 3 months + community service. Look at those pictures. This isn’t a road design issue, it’s just pure criminal behavior plain and simple. I agree, these crimes should be treated the same way as if someone got drunk and high and started firing a gun in public. When you get behind the wheel, as when you brandish a loaded weapon, you are taking full accountability for your actions with a powerful tool that can do serious harm if misused. No sympathy – no leniency.

  10. Dave says:

    Is it possible, perhaps through hypnosis, to inculate a permanent, crippling fear of even riding in an automobile in a person? Maybe this is the right behavior mod for drunk drivers. A few years ago, a friend of my wife’s was killed by a wrong-way drunk on I-5. Since then I have lost any ability to see intoxicated drivers as human beings–wisdom comes hard, y’all.

  11. ivana Biatch says:

    OK FIRST OFF THE TOXICOLOGY REPORT CAME BACK NEGATIVE…G-D you folks are quick to judge. Loss of an innocnet life is a terrible thing. She made a tragic mistake as a young driver, but before you you crucify her for her sins, at least know the facts

  12. Bongo Herbert says:

    Just a very small correction- that note was from both his son and daughter…

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