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Update: 2 of 3 children continue to show improvement

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There were more positive signs for two of the five children who were rescued from a submerged car after the vehicle they were riding in veered off a St. Louis Park highway ramp.

KSTP reports that family spokesman Rick Petry said Saturday that 5-year-old Amani Guerrido and 1-year-old Aliyana Rennie opened their eyes and moved their fingers and toes.

Petry said they also continue to respond to verbal commands. He called it "a huge improvement."

The third surviving child, 6-year-old Zarihana Rennie is holding her ground. She has neither improved or declined and remains the most critically injured at this point.

Two other children died in the Thursday morning crash. The Hennepin County medical examiner's office said Saturday that Alarious Coleman-Guerrido and Zenavia Rennie died of drowning, according to a report in the Pioneer Press.

Petry said funeral arrangements for Alarious and Zenavia are underway. He indicated they would most likely be announced on Monday.

The Star Tribune reports first-hand accounts from witnesses and responders to the accident Thursday in St. Louis Park that left two children dead, one fighting for life and two others in critical condition as of Saturday morning.

A good Samaritan swam out to try to help Marion Guerrido, 23, of Brooklyn Center. She was standing on top of her submerged car screaming for help. Residents at Brittany Apartments, overlooking the pond at the intersection of Hwys. 7 and 100, called 911.

MPR News reports 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, according to Petry.

St. Louis Park police officer Aaron Trant was first on the scene.

Trant saw two people standing in the pond with water up to their waists. But he didn't see a car. He said his "heart hit the floor" when he learned kids were trapped.

Guerrido was screaming, “My kids! Save my kids!” as the car, 50 feet from the pond’s edge, continued to sink.

"Not seeing the vehicle, I screamed out to them," Trant recalled. "I said, 'where's the vehicle at?' They said, 'we're standing on top of the vehicle.'"

Another police officer, Sgt. Jon Parker took off his gun belt and waded in, but was forced to turn around when he found he could barely walk in the mud.

When firefighters arrived, they decided there was no time to wait for rescue divers. A firefighter wearing no protective gear got to the car to mark its location for responders.

Then firefighter Tim Smith, in a flotation suit, swam out and pushed his legs through an open window, searching for the children with his feet and legs. Guiding the first child he found to his arms, he handed the child to another firefighter, who swam to shore.

"Feeling around with my feet was difficult because of the buoyancy of the suit," Smith told MPR News. "And just trying to stabilize me -- if you can imagine a fishing bobber in the waves -- it's difficult to stay in one place."

Capt. Paul Risholt swam a second child to shore, where ambulances waited and paramedics performed CPR. Rescuers attached a rope to Smith, who punched out two windows to locate the third and fourth children.

“I thought we had them all until the State Patrol said there was one more child in the car,” Smith said. Within minutes, he had retrieved the last child.

Three of the children are Guerrido's -- Alarious, who died; Amani, and baby Aliyana. Julius Rennie is Aliyana's father and Guerrido's boyfriend. Zenavia was Rennie's daughter, and so is Zarihana.

Marion Guerrido was not a licensed driver; she had a driver's permit.

In a statement, Guerrido and her family thanked rescuers, hospital staff and the community for its support:

"Words cannot express our grief at the loss of our children, Zenavia Rennie and Alarious Coleman-Guerrido. As you can only imagine, this is our worst nightmare,” the statement said. “We cannot even think about life without them, and already miss them so much.”

fund has been set up to help the family.

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