Originally published at 10:30 a.m.
MINNEAPOLIS(AP/WCCO) — The woman who was driving a car filled with children when it veered off a suburban Minneapolis highway ramp and plunged into 9 feet of water did not have a valid driver’s license, authorities said.
Two of the five children died, authorities confirmed Friday, while three remained hospitalized a day after the crash. The five children, ages 1 to 7, were removed from the car after it was towed into shallower water.
The driver, Marion Guerrido, was the mother of three of the children; the other two children were her boyfriend’s. She had a Minnesota driver’s permit but not a license, said State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. Guerrido’s permit was considered invalid because she was not driving with a licensed driver, as required, at the time of the crash, he said.
The crash happened Thursday morning in St. Louis Park. Guerrido was driving northwest on Highway 7 toward Highway 100 on the damp roadway when the 1998 Pontiac Grand Am went into a storm water pond, the State Patrol said.
Guerrido escaped and screamed for help, but the children were trapped inside as the car sank in water that was 8 to 9 feet deep, said State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. Passers-by unsuccessfully tried to rescue the children before police arrived.
“Obviously it was a very chaotic situation, a very unusual situation because of a number of factors: the temperature of the water, the depth, no information about initially what had happened,” Roeske said. “All we knew were there were kids in a vehicle at the bottom of a pond.”
Roeske said rescuers pulled the children out one by one. The first child was pulled from the water about 25 minutes after the crash was reported, and the last one was in the water for about 45 minutes.
Authorities confirmed Friday that two of them — 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie and 7-year-old Alarious Coleman-Guerrido — had died. The other three children — Aliyana Rennie, 1, Amani Coleman-Guerrido, 5, and Zarihana Rennie, 6 — remained hospitalized in critical condition, according to family attorney Rick Petry.
Family and friends were holding vigil for the three children still in critical condition.
“The sad thing is she tried to get the kids out herself, she tried to get by standers to help, finally a neighbor near by came out and tried to help,” Petry said.