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 Thursday after it was towed into shallower water in St. Louis Park. The 23-year-old driver, who was the mother of three of the children, escaped and screamed for help.
Two of the children, Zenavia Rennie, 5, and Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, 7, have died, State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said via Twitter. 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, family attorney Rick Petry said Friday.
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.
Roeske said the driver, Marion Guerrido of Brooklyn Center, had a driver's permit but not a license. Guerrido's permit was considered invalid because she was not driving with a licensed driver at the time of the crash, he said.
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. The investigation could take weeks, Roeske said Friday.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 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. It was tentatively planned to begin next fall for completion in 2016, according to MnDOT's website.