Breaking News
More () »

FOX West Texas Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Abilene and San Angelo, Texas | myfoxzone.com

He died while saving a calf. His family is keeping his legacy and love for animals alive

Coyote "Cody" Renner was 29 and expecting a baby when he tragically died last year. His family is now raising money for an animal sanctuary.

RIO VISTA, Texas — For Audrey Swoveland Renner, her husband is everywhere she looks.

In the eyes of her daughters, in the swing set he designed and built for them, he is everywhere. She makes sure of it.

"He really did amazing things that, of course, I want to share with people," Renner said. "I want to share because his children some day are going to hear about it."

This month marks one year since Coyote Renner, known better as Cody, passed away in an incident that hurt hearts in Johnson County and beyond. Cody was a ranch hand in Cleburne, and while moving cattle, a one-day old calf fell into a retention pond.

"Like sleeping, it was just so easy and effortless for him to go and rescue an innocent animal," Renner said, adding her husband had done it several times. 

Renner was seven months pregnant with their second daughter, Cody's third, when she got the news.

"They said to me, 'There's been an accident. Sorry to tell you your husband drowned,'" she recalled.

It was a life-altering blow for the expectant mother.

"From that moment on, it's been a blur," she said.

The months after left her heartbroken. She welcomed their daughter, Hannah, in August. But in the wake of the tragedy she'd been through, she also became hopeful.

"The support I've received has been incredible," Renner said.

The Cleburne elementary school teacher says friends and strangers alike took care of their family in a way she never expected. And now, as they approach the one-year mark since Cody's death, they want to give back.

They're selling T-shirts and raising money in Cody's honor that will go toward Ranch Hands Rescue, which describes itself as a human and animal sanctuary in Denton County. 

It's what the animal lover would've wanted, Renner said.

Bob Williams, President and CEO of Ranch Hands Rescue, told WFAA:

"We will design a plaque for Cody and place it on our Wall of Hope so that he and his legacy will never be forgotten."

"Animals can help heal people, and I think that's so special. So if I can give back to something like that in a way people have given to me, I'd love to be a part of it," Renner said.

Cody never did get to meet his daughter, Hannah. But his daughter Sarah remembers him, and Renner said she will ensure they both know the strong, selfless, faithful man their father was.

"He sacrificed his life to save something so innocent," Renner said.

He was a father who was also their hero.

If you'd like to buy a shirt for the fundraiser, click here.