Originally posted: Nov. 21, 2013 6:41 a.m.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) –- Two children have died after being trapped in a car underwater anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes in a pond following a crash Thursday morning in St. Louis Park.
The deceased children were two of five kids unable to get out of the sunken car until emergency workers pulled it from the frigid pond. The car’s driver, who is mother and stepmother to the children, made it away safely.
St. Louis Park city spokesman Jamie Zwilling said all the children were unconscious and unresponsive when pulled from the car. The three surviving children are being treated at two area hospitals, Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. As of Thursday night, officials have not given details on the children’s conditions.
The State Patrol says 5-year-old Zenavia C. Rennie died at around 7:30 p.m. An attorney for the family said later Thursday night that 7-year-old Alarious Coleman-Guerrido also passed away. Both died at Hennepin County Medical Center.
The mother, and driver, has been identified as 23-year-old Marian Guerrido of Brooklyn Center. The surviving children are listed as 1-year-old Aliyana E. Rennie, 6-year-old Zarihana M. Rennie, and 5-year-old Amani N. Coleman-Guerrido. They all suffered serious injuries, authorities said.
Guerrido is the mother of Amani, Aliyana and the deceased Alarious. She is the stepmother to the other two children, including Zenavia, who also died. Many of the children are students at Odyssey Academy in Brooklyn Center. Teachers will meet there Friday morning to talk about explaining the tragedy to the kids’ classmates.
Authorities said the crash happened near Highways 7 and 100 at about 6:10 a.m., with the first victim pulled from the car about 25 minutes later. The last victim was pulled out around 6:55 a.m. — after being underwater for 45 minutes.
Jeffrey Robertson looked out his apartment window Thursday morning and saw a woman in the water.
“She was just screaming, ‘help me, help me,’” he said. “She was, I’m assuming standing on her car because she was about knee-deep.”
Robertson said he immediately called 911, not knowing she wasn’t the only one who needed help.
The vehicle was a four-door 1998 Pontiac Grand Am. State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said the car veered left off a highway ramp and plunged down a slope into the pond about 40 to 50 yards from the roadway. He said there was no guardrail separating the pond from the ramp.
Roeske said rescuers initially had difficulty removing the five children from the vehicle and couldn’t free them until a tow truck pulled the vehicle from the pond.
“I didn’t see any kids until they started pulling people out of the car,” Robertson said.
The car was in very cold water about 8 or 9 feet deep, authorities say.
“The water was quite deep. A passerby who jumped in the water was standing on the roof of the vehicle and was up to his neck,” Roeske said. “Incredibly cold, nearly freezing temperature water made it a very difficult situation for someone to try to get in there in that vehicle and remove anyone from it.”
Roeske said they found several Good Samaritans in the freezing water trying to help. The city fire department and the Hennepin County dive team worked to get the car out.
Guerrido was reportedly in stable condition and did not have any serious injuries, Roeske said.
He said it wasn’t clear whether speed was a factor in the crash but he noted that alcohol was not involved. The road was wet from light mist, but not icy, he said.
Asked to comment on whether the crash could have been intentional, Roeske said they were planning to fully investigate the incident, but there was no immediate information that would indicate the crash had happened on purpose.
Police say they are still looking into how the kids had all fit in the four-door sedan and if any of them were wearing seat belts.
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