The two daughters and son of a Blue Earth man killed in a head-on collision on Highway 169 early Halloween morning in 2020 are asking, “Where’s the justice?”
Harold Elvin Renkly, 76, the driver of a minivan, died at the scene and passenger Stanley R. Oppedal, 84, of Ames, Iowa, was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Jeffrey Gordon Gunzenhauser, 21, of Winnebago was charged with felony charges of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation, and gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation.
“There is no justice for what that kid did. He’s going on with his life like he did nothing wrong, and the justice system seems to be on his side,” says Sheri Renkly.
Off-duty Winnebago police officer Jacob Pettit was driving south on Highway 169 around 12:30 a.m., according to court documents, when he was nearly run off the road by Gunzenhauser’s car traveling north in the southbound lane.
Pettit reportedly called the county dispatch and turned around to follow Gunzenhauser for three miles.
A blood sample shows he had a blood-alcohol content level of .10, three hours after the crash. The criminal complaint also says that Gunzenhauser’s girlfriend was talking with him on the phone when the call abruptly ended.
“I don’t understand why you can drive on the wrong side of the road, be intoxicated, talking on your cell phone and almost hit a cop who saw the whole thing,” says Renkly.
Gunzenhauser was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center for serious injuries resulting in a traumatic brain injury.
Last month, a second competency evaluation ordered by Faribault County Judge Troy Timmerman determined that Gunzenhauser was incompetent and his case is suspended for now.
“If you look at his Facebook status you would see there’s nothing incompetent about this kid,” says Renkly.
Although the County Attorney’s Office tries to keep family members updated on the case, Renkly says they don’t provide much information.
Timmerman has ordered Faribault County Human Services to conduct a prepetition screening and make a recommendation on whether Gunzenhauser should be civilly committed.
In addition, the agency in charge of Gunzenhauser’s supervision if he is civilly committed must report not less than once every six months on his mental condition with an opinion as to competency to proceed.