Updated: 11/25/2013 8:18 PM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough
A family spokesman says two of the five children rescued from a pond after a car veered off a suburban Minneapolis highway ramp are making even more headway.
Attorney Rick Petry said Saturday, 5-year-old Amani Guerrido and 1-year-old Aliyana Rennie not only respond to verbal commands, they also opened their eyes, moved their fingers and toes.
He calls that "a huge improvement." A third child, who's outlived the ordeal, 6-year-old Zarihana Rennie is holding her ground. She's neither improved nor declined, which means she's the most critically injured at this point.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner confirmed two other children: 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie and 7-year-old Alarious Guerrido drown. Authorities say they were underwater too long to be saved.
The children are part of a blended family with 23-year-old Marian Guerrido and 24-year-old JR Rennie. The families' attorney spoke for the couple Friday, "as you can imagine this is our worst nightmare, we can't imagine life without them we already miss them very much."
Investigators started the slow process of reconstructing the scene and circumstances of the crash. The Minnesota State Patrol says Marian Guerrido, the driver, had a permit but it wasn't valid because she didn't have a licensed driver in the car. Alcohol wasn't detected and it's too early to determine if speed or mechanical problems were a factor in the deadly crash into a freezing pond off Highway 100 and Highway 7 in St. Louis Park.
The five children, ages 1 to 7, were trapped in the car after it plunged into 9 feet of icy water.
Guerrido started a job recently at Wells Fargo Bank in Shoreview. A spokesperson, Peggy Gunn, issued a statement, "like so many others we are saddened by the tragic car accident involving our team member."
The couple had two children each and one child together. The family worshipped at St. Andrews Episcopal in North Minneapolis, "you really feel for the families , the loss of such a precious life," said Aquille Roberts-Ford. The church will honor the family at its' Sunday service.
"It's a pretty somber moment here at St. Andrew's," said Aquilla Roberts-Ford, who volunteers at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, where some family members attend church.
She said it was just last Sunday that little Zenavia and Zarihana sat in the pews of the north Minneapolis church. On Friday, one was gone, and the other was fighting for her life.
"It just tugs at your heart to know that we've lost one of them," Roberts-Ford said.
She said the family was a fixture there.
"They're just a loving, close-knit family," Roberts-Ford said.
The girls' grandmother volunteered at the church, Roberts-Ford said her granddaughters were never far from her side. Now, that family is living through the unthinkable.
"Two young kids who have not even tasted life yet, and they're just gone from our midst. It's heartbreaking," said Rev. John Mitchell, with St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.
"You think about what they could have been, and what they could have done, and how they could have contributed," Roberts-Ford said. "You can't explain it. You really, really, truly cannot explain it."
"It doesn't make sense right now, but you definitely have to look up to Him, and He will make sense of it all," Roberts- Ford said.
Click here to read the 911 call transcript and a joint statement released by the police and fire departments.
A fund has been established to help the family of the victims cover funeral and medical expenses. So far, 136 contributors have donated more than $8500.
The family is in the process of setting up a CaringBridge website as well.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.