MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - One child died and four others were seriously injured when the car they were riding in slid into a near-freezing pond in suburban Minneapolis on Thursday, police said.
Zenavia Rennie, 5, was killed after the vehicle she and the four other children, ages 1 to 7, were in veered off a rain-slicked highway ramp and plunged into the pond in St. Louis Park, Minnesota State Patrol spokesman Eric Roeske said.
They were rescued about a half hour after the car went into the water.
The children were unresponsive after being pulled from the car, which slid 40 feet down an embankment into a retention pond, said Jamie Zwilling, spokesman for St. Louis Park, a suburb west of Minneapolis.
The children were seriously injured, according to the Minnesota State Patrol website, and were being treated at Hennepin County Medical Center and University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The hospitals would not release further information.
The driver, 23-year-old Marion Guerrido of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, is the mother and stepmother of the children, Roeske said.
Witnesses said they heard Guerrido, who was apparently uninjured, calling for help.
“I could see someone screaming, ‘Help me! Help me! Help me!'” said Jeffrey Robertson, 40, of St. Louis Park, who was in a nearby second-story apartment and called emergency services.
Robertson, who said Guerrido was standing knee deep in the water, could not see the car from his vantage point.
When he learned there were children in the water, “My heart just sank,” he said.
A passerby, Joel Oine, also of St. Louis Park, tried to rescue the children but could not, according to Roeske. Initially, emergency responders also were unable to reach the children, he said.
A water rescue team was able to remove the children, and a tow truck pulled the car from the water.
Roeske said police were investigating what caused the car to go off the ramp, which does not have guardrails, and whether the children were in seat belts or car seats.
An emergency call was received at 6:10 a.m. and the last victim was retrieved at 6:55 a.m. The water was about nine feet deep where the car sank, Roeske said.
The four other children were identified as Aliyana Rennie, age 1; Zarihana Rennie, 6; Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, 7; and Amani Coleman-Guerrido, 5, all of Brooklyn Center, according to the Minnesota State Patrol website.
Reporting by Todd Melby in Minneapolis, Brendan O'Brien and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Leslie Adler and Eric Beech