ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (AP) — Two of five children who were trapped in a car that veered off a suburban Minneapolis highway ramp and became submerged in a storm water pond have died, according to authorities.
The five children, ages 1 to 7, were removed from the car after the vehicle was towed from the water Thursday in St. Louis Park. The 23-year-old driver, who was also the mother of three of the children, escaped from the car and screamed for help.
Zenavia Rennie, 5, died of her injuries Thursday night, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, 7, also died Thursday night, according to family attorney Rick Petry. No details of the children's deaths have been released.
The three other children, Amani Coleman-Guerrido, 5, Aliyana Rennie, 1, and Zarihana Rennie, 6, remained hospitalized in critical condition, Petry said Friday.
State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said the first victim was pulled from the water about 25 minutes after the crash was reported about 6:10 a.m. Rescuers pulled the children out one by one, and the last one removed had been in the water for 45 minutes, he said.
Passers-by attempted to rescue the children before police arrived, but the 1998 Pontiac Grand Am was submerged in 8 to 9 feet of cold water. Roeske said the "incredibly cold, nearly freezing-temperature water" would have made it difficult for anyone to reach the children. It came up to the neck of one would-be rescuer who stood on the roof of the four-door sedan, he said.
Minnesota Public Radio reported, citing the State Patrol, that the driver, Marion Guerrido of Brooklyn Center, did not have a valid driver's license. Petry said he was not aware that Guerrido did not have a license. Neighbors told the Star Tribune that Guerrido's boyfriend, Julius Rennie, is the father of the two other children. Petry said he also did not know if this was the case.
"I don't even know what the cause of the accident was," Petry said.
Roeske said investigators were working to determine whether speed was a factor; the road had been wet from light mist, but not icy, he said. He said there was no indication that Guerrido intentionally drove into the water. No alcohol was found in her system.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Transportation list of 2014 construction projects includes the interchange near where the accident occurred. It's part of a $60 million construction project to improve safety and other factors.