The mother of two of the five children who were in a car that veered off a highway ramp into a holding pond says she's angry about the accident. Shaniece Thompson is the mother of 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie and 6-year-old Zarihana Rennie. The 5-year-old was among the two children who drowned in Thursday's crash in St. Louis Park, while the three others remain hospitalized.
Thompson told WCCO-TV that she still has many questions about the accident.
The driver, Marion Guerrido, 23, of Brooklyn Center, was driving without a license.
"I'm angry about the fact she was driving without a license. I'm angry at the fact she put all those kids in a small car," Thompson said. Guerrido had a Minnesota driver's permit but not a license, State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said Friday. Guerrido's permit was considered invalid because she was not driving with a licensed driver, as required, at the time of the crash, he said.
Guerrido is the girlfriend of Zarihana and Zenavia's father. She was taking the children to her mother's home when her car veered left off the ramp from Highway 7 to Highway 100 and went into the pond, where the 1998 Pontiac Grand Am sank in about 9 feet of water. The investigation into the crash is expected to take several weeks. It will be up to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to decide if any charges will be filed.
Two of Guerrido's own children -- Aliyana Rennie, 1, and Amani Coleman-Guerrido, 5 -- remain in the hospital. Her 7-year-old boy, Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, also died in the accident. Thompson and her mother, Capri Bronson, first heard about the crash on the news.
"I followed it, because there were kids involved, you know, not knowing that this story that I'm watching is involving two of my grandchildren," Bronson said. They didn't learn that the accident involved their family until hours later and didn't get to the hospital before Zenavia died.
"I could have been there to let them know 'I'm here,' you know. We fight for each other, you know. So maybe, if she heard my voice or something she would have, you know, fought harder or something different could have came out," Thompson said. While Thompson and Bronson said she knows getting answers won't take away the grief and loss, they may provide some comfort.
"I want her to tell me what happened. She's the one who witnessed my children's last breath," Thompson said. ``I would like to know really what happened."
YOUNGEST SURVIVOR BREATHING UNASSISTED
One-year-old Aliyana Rennie's recovery in a Twin Cities hospital continues to give her family hope.
"She's now able to take some breaths on her own, so those are all improvements that we view as being positive," said family spokesman Rick Petry on Sunday.
Still, she remains in critical but stable condition, as do the other two other children.
In the meantime, Petry set up a website to raise money for the families.
"Having now three children in extensive care for an extended amount of time -- I can imagine that these medical bills will be well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so every bit of help these people can get will certainly be appreciated."
The site brought in $13,000 in donations as of Sunday.
Four of the children involved in the crash attended Odyssey Academy in Brooklyn Center. Grief counselors will be present there again this week. Four students from the school were involved in a car accident in St. Louis Park on Thursday.
John Sedey, the school's director, says the news of the crash hit students and staff hard.
It's devastating. You can't explain, I think, the emotions that are going on in this building because everybody knows everybody," Sedey said. "And everyone has a strong relationship."
The investigation into the crash is expected to take several weeks. It will be up to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to decide if any charges will be filed. Funeral services for those children haven't been set.
MPR News reporters Tim Post and Jon Collins contributed to this story.