KSTP reports that the father of several children involved in a St. Louis Park pond crash in November said he and his girlfriend – who was the car's driver – "just kind of were doing the best we could."
Two of five children in the car died as a result of the crash at highways 100 and 7 on Nov. 21, including Zenavia Rennie, 5, and Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, 7. Alarious was the daughter of the car's driver, Marion Guerrido, 23.
Zenavia was the daughter of Guerrido's boyfriend, JR Rennie, who spoke in a new KSTP interview.
Rennie and Guerrido both had two children each from previous relationships in the car. Rennie and Guerrido are the parents of the fifth child, a 1-year-old who survived, Aliyana Rennie. Guerrido escaped unhurt.
"All of them entrusted us with their safety, it's nothing that was done on purpose, but that safety was compromised," JR Rennie told KSTP in a lengthy interview posted online.
The morning of the crash, the harried parents rushed to get him to work. Before they dropped Rennie off, all seven crowded into the only car they had that ran, a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am sedan, he told KSTP. "That's not how we wanted it to be, we have another vehicle, a Suburban, but it was down for repairs."
Guerrido had a learner's permit to drive, but did not have a valid license. In hindsight, a soft-spoken Rennie says, "you shouldn't have let her drive."
Guerrido had dropped Rennie at work but still had the five children in the car at the time of the crash. Investigators say Guerrido veered off the ramp from westbound Highway 7 to northbound Highway 100 and crashed into a pond, and the car was fully submerged. A preliminary investigation indicated Guerrido may have overcorrected on the wet road.
By the time rescuers got to the children, all five were unresponsive, although the three survivors have reportedly shown signs of improvement. Amani Coleman-Guerrido, 5, was released from the hospital last month.
JR Rennie declined to talk about the recovery of the children, although he said his 6-year-old is "dealing with a lot, and it shows."
The State Patrol continues to investigate.
"When you've had something like this happen, it's hard to try to point fingers and say you did that or this was wrong, the truth of the matter is everybody was involved," Rennie told KSTP.