Driver in crash that killed 2 children did not have valid license, State Patrol says

Marion Guerrido
In this Nov. 21, 2013 photo police lead Marion Guerrido, left, to an ambulance after the car she was driving with five children veered off a suburban Minneapolis highway ramp and became submerged in a storm water pond.
Elizabeth Flores/Star-Tribune/AP

Marion Guerrido, the woman behind the wheel of a car carrying five children that crashed into a St. Louis Park stormwater pond Thursday morning, did not have a valid driver's license, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

The State Patrol said Guerrido had an instruction permit that allowed her to drive with a licensed driver in the car, but she was the only adult in the car at the time of the crash.

Two children died and three others remain in critical condition in the hospital after emergency crews pulled them from the submerged 1998 Pontiac Grand Am following the crash at highways 100 and 7. Guerrido, of Brooklyn Center, was able to escape the car.

The Minnesota State Patrol said Zenavia Rennie, 5, died at Hennepin County Medical Center Thursday night of her injuries. Attorney Rick Petry, who is acting as a spokesman for the family, confirmed the death of Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, 7.

The other three children passengers in the car were Aliyana Rennie, age 1, Zarihana Rennie, 6, and Amani Coleman-Guerrido, 5, also of Brooklyn Center.

The State Patrol said Aliyana, Alarious and Amani are Guerrido's sons and daughter. Petry said Guerrido had dropped off her boyfriend, Julius Rennie, at work. She was on her way to take the kids to her mother's house in Brooklyn Center before heading to work herself when the car went into the pond.

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All five children were in the submerged car for at least 20 minutes, and at least one of them for as much as 45 minutes, according to the timeline laid out by authorities.

The water was about 9 feet deep, according to the State Patrol. Hennepin County authorities said the rescue of at least some of the children involved divers from the Sheriff's office.

St. Louis Park fire officials said none of the children were responsive when they were pulled from the car yesterday morning.

Location of the crash (story continues below):

Marion Guerrido was going westbound on Highway 7 and turned onto the entrance ramp for northbound Highway 100. It's not a typical freeway entrance as it takes a fairly sharp turn, almost a right angle, away from Highway 7. Guerrido's car went into the pond very near that turn, and it was only about 50 yards down a slope into the water from the roadway.

The State Patrol said it is investigating the incident, and that it's too early to conclude whether speed or any mechanical problems with the car were factors in the crash. The State Patrol report said the road was damp at the time of the crash.

State Patrol spokesman Eric Roeske said they don't believe that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

The four older children were students at Odyssey Academy, a K-8 charter school in Brooklyn Center.

A fund has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses and medical costs.

TROUBLESOME INTERSECTION

The intersection where the car crashed into the pond is scheduled for a $60 million reconstruction beginning late next summer, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The ramp the car ran off of will be eliminated and replaced with a loop in the 2014 project because its merge length is too short, said Bobbie Dahlke, a MnDOT spokesperson for Hennepin County.

The ramp does not have a guard rail because it doesn't fit MnDOT qualifications, which consider slope and look for a 6-foot distance between the road and the first structure a driver would hit, Dahlke said.

"We look at what we call the clear zone," she said. "That six feet is enough room for a motorist to correct the faction, to get out of a situation before it hits a structure or goes into a pond."

Dahlke said officials have re-evaluated the area after the incident but said it's unlikely they will add a guard rail. "Certainly when anything like this happens, we do re-look at things to make sure," she said.

In 2010-12, 18 crashes occurred on the ramp, according to MnDOT. Dahlke said that's a relatively low number for an area with traffic signals.

MPR News reporter Elizabeth Dunbar and MPR News intern Cody Nelson contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect figure from MnDOT. The agency incorrectly said there were 19 crashes on the highway ramp between 2010 and 2012. The current version of this story is correct.