Two children hospitalized after their car landed in a frigid St. Louis Park pond continued to improve Saturday while more than $8,500 poured into a fund within 24 hours to help the family.
Marion Guerrido, 23, was driving on Hwy. 7 shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday morning when her Pontiac Grand Am went off the ramp near Hwy. 100 into a holding pond with her three young children and her boyfriend’s two children inside. She escaped uninjured, but the five children sank with the car and were unresponsive when they were rescued.
On Saturday, Guerrido’s 5-year-old, Amani Coleman-Guerrido, continued to improve, opening his eyes at Hennepin County Medical Center while her 1-year-old daughter, Aliyana Rennie, also showed signs of recovering at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.
“They’re moving in the right direction,” said Rick Petry, a family friend and attorney.
However, 6-year-old Zarihana Rennie, the daughter of Guerrido’s boyfriend, Julius Rennie, remained unresponsive at HCMC.
Rennie’s daughter, 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie, and Guerrido’s 7-year-old Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, died Thursday. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said on Saturday that both children drowned. Funeral services haven’t yet been announced.
The accident drew national attention and support for the family, Petry said, even from total strangers.
“Everybody is rallying together,” he said.
He set up an online fund on Friday and within about 24 hours more than 100 donors had given more than $8,500 to the family to help with funeral expenses and mounting medical costs as the three children remain in intensive care. Several donors expressed sympathy, with one signing simply “a mother.”
“It’s phenomenal,” Petry said of the donations. “For parents to hear something like this, it’s heart-wrenching.”
Petry said the donations are a “fantastic start” for the family that will likely be faced with several thousands of dollars in medical bills and funeral costs. Donations will continue to be accepted at strib.mn/I8nWMG for weeks; in all, Petry hopes to raise $100,000 for the family.
Petry said Guerrido is still in shock, spending every hour since the accident at the children’s hospital beds and was there when the two children died. The family said in a statement that, “as you can only imagine, this is our worst nightmare.”
The State Patrol is continuing to investigate the crash, but said it could take several weeks to determine what caused the car to go off the ramp. No alcohol was detected, but the State Patrol said that Guerrido had only a driver’s permit and was required to have another licensed adult driver in the car. It’s not clear if the children were wearing seat belts or if any were in car seats.
Four of the five children attended Odyssey Academy, a Brooklyn Center charter school that was Guerrido’s destination Thursday after she had dropped off her boyfriend at his job.
Petry said the family is focused on the surviving children, with each passing day giving them hope they’ll make a full recovery.
“We’re operating on the assumption they’ll pull through and go on to have normal lives,” he said. “There’s always hope.”