published Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

5 children trapped up to 45 minutes in Minneapolis pond

A police officer investigates the scene where six people were rescued after their car went into a holding pond near a highway exit ramp Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in St. Louis Park, Minn.
A police officer investigates the scene where six people were rescued after their car went into a holding pond near a highway exit ramp Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in St. Louis Park, Minn.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — A car veered off a rain-slicked highway ramp in suburban Minneapolis early Thursday, landing in a nearby holding pond and trapping five children underwater for up to 45 minutes until a tow truck could pull it out, authorities said.

The Minnesota State Patrol said the children were seriously injured, but did not give details on the nature of the injuries or how the injuries happened. St. Louis Park city spokeswoman Jamie Zwilling said all five were unresponsive when they were pulled from the car, and their conditions weren't immediately released.

The driver of the car, identified as Marion Guerrido, 23, of Brooklyn Center, made it out on her own as the car sank. She was had no apparent injuries, State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said.

The children -- all from Brooklyn Center and ranging in age from 1 to 7 -- were initially taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, Roeske said. Two were later taken to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

Roeske said the first victim was pulled from the water about 25 minutes after the crash was reported about 6:10 a.m., but the last wasn't removed until her or she had been in the water 45 minutes.

The State Patrol identified the children as Aliyana E. Rennie, 1; Zenavia C. Rennie, 5; Zarihana M. Rennie, 6; Amani N. Coleman-Guerrido, 5; and Alarious M. Coleman-Guerrido, 7.

The woman's relationship to the children wasn't immediately known, Roeske said.

The crash happened in St. Louis Park, a western Minneapolis suburb. Roeske said the car veered left off the ramp from Highway 7 to Highway 100 and plunged down a slope into the pond about 40 to 50 yards from the roadway. He said there was no guardrail separating the pond from the ramp.

Passersby who saw the car attempted to rescue the children, but it was submerged in 8 to 9 feet of cold water. Roeske said he was told one good Samaritan stood on the roof of the four-door sedan, and the "incredibly cold, nearly freezing-temperature water" was up to his neck, which would have made it difficult for anyone to reach the children.

The city fire department and the Hennepin County sheriff's dive team responded and used tow trucks to pull the sedan out of the water.

"Once the vehicle was removed from the water, we found that there were five other occupants, all children," he said.

Zwilling said firefighters didn't wait for the tow truck to get the car all the way to shore. He said they started breaking windows and pulling out the children as soon as the water was shallow enough.

Roeske also said it wasn't clear whether speed was a factor in the crash. The road was wet from light mist, but not icy, he said. He said there was no indication that the woman intentionally drove into the water.

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