Posted at: 11/21/2013 9:42 AM
Updated at: 11/22/2013 1:41 PM
By: Jennie Olson, KSTP-TV
A 5-year-old and 7-year-old are dead and three other children remain hospitalized in critical condition after a car veered off a highway ramp in St. Louis Park and landed in a holding pond early Thursday morning.
The crash occurred at Highways 7 and 100 shortly after 6 a.m. when roads were wet, but not icy.
City spokesman Jamie Zwilling said the driver, 23-year-old Marion Guerrido of Brooklyn Center, made it out of the four-door Pontiac sedan when it landed in the water. The children were submerged in the car in near-freezing water for up to 45 minutes. The water was about 8-9 feet deep.
Five children were passengers in the car. A family spokespoerson says 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie and 7-year-old Alarious Coleman-Guerrido died after the crash.
The other passengers in the car have been identified by the Minnesota State Patrol as one-year-old Aliyana Rennie, 6-year-old Zarihana Rennie and 5-year-old Amani Coleman-Guerrido.
Three of the children are Marion Guerrido's own. The other two are her boyfriend's kids.
Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol says the kids weren't pulled from the car until after the car was removed from the water by emergency crews. Witnesses were already trying to help when crews arrived.
"You're looking at probably 8 to 9 feet deep. Incredibly cold, nearly freezing temperature water. That made it a very difficult situation for someone to try to get in there and get in that vehicle," Lt. Roeske said.
One witness, who called 911, said he saw Marion Guerrido at the scene, screaming for help.
All five children were unresponsive when they were pulled from the car. The children were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. Two of the children were later transferred to Amplatz Children's Hospital. Marion Guerrido has no apparent injuries.
It's not clear if the children were wearing seat belts or restrained by car seats when the car went into the pond.
The State Patrol says Marion Guerrido does not have a valid Minnesota driver's license; she had a driver's permit, which was invalid because she didn't have a licensed driver with her.
Medical workers tell KSTP that freezing water is the worst kind of water to be trapped in because you can lose your body heat up to 25 times faster than in room-temperature water.
There is no guardrail where the car went off the road as it was going north on the Highway 100 ramp, and the distance from the car to the road was about 40-50 yards, police say.
The ramp from Highway 7 to northbound Highway 100 was closed following the crash, and traffic on Highway 7 was down to one lane.
The four older children went to school together at Odyssey Academy in Brooklyn Center. Counselors will be available Firday to talk with their classmates. The school also plans to send a letter home to parents that will include suggestions for their students to get through this tough time.
A fund has been established to help the family of the victims.
(Copyright 2013 KSTP-TV, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)