The driver, the 23-year-old mother of three of the children, was able to escape. It took over 20 minutes to free all the kids.
The mother’s desperate screams pierced the predawn mist and darkness, alerting nearby residents to the unthinkable: Five young children were trapped inside a submerged car that had gone off an entrance ramp into the frigid waters of a St. Louis Park pond.
The driver, Marion N. Guerrido, 23, of Brooklyn Center, escaped from the four-door sedan on her own. But for more than 20 minutes, the children remained at the bottom of the holding pond by the interchange at Hwys. 7 and 100, with no one able to reach them.
When the children, all unconscious, were removed from the car, they were rushed to Twin Cities hospitals.
By late Thursday, two of them were dead. The others were being treated for what the State Patrol described as serious injuries.
The State Patrol said just after 8:30 p.m. that 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie had died of her injuries. Rick Petry, an attorney for the family, later confirmed that 7-year-old Alarious Coleman-Guerrido died between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Guerrido, the mother of three of the children, was not hospitalized.
The three surviving children remained hospitalized Friday morning, said family lawyer Rick Petry.
He said the family’s primary focus is “to do everything they can to make sure the three kids survive this.”
Alerted by a woman’s screams
“I ran out to the balcony the second I heard the woman screaming,” said Jeffrey Robertson, 40, who lives in the Brittany Apartments complex overlooking the pond and who called 911 at 6:16 a.m. He had been watching the morning news in his second-floor apartment when he heard her screams.
“Even in the darkness, I could see a woman standing in water up to her knees,” he said. “Looking back, everything about her screams told you she was the mother of a child in trouble.”
Three of the children riding in the 1998 Grand Am are Guerrido’s — sons Alarious and Amani Coleman-Guerrido, 5, and daughter Aliyana Rennie, 1, whose father, Julius Rennie, is Guerrido’s boyfriend, her Brooklyn Center neighbors said. Zenavia was Rennie’s daughter, as is Zarihana Rennie, 6.
The cause of the accident had yet to be determined late Thursday. Despite the mist, the roads were relatively dry and free of ice, authorities said. At that hour, traffic is relatively light.
No alcohol was detected, according to the State Patrol, but Lt. Eric Roeske of the patrol said that “according to our records [Guerrido] did not have a valid license.”
Authorities did not say whether the children were wearing seat belts or any of were in car seats.
“This is a horrible, horrible tragedy and accident,” Petry said. “I can only try and imagine what they’ve got to be going through now. It’s just a real sad situation.”
Petry wants no one “to think that this poor mother has done anything wrong,” he said. “From what I know, I don’t think she did anything wrong. She tried to do everything right.”