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Father of Child Killed in SLP Pond Crash Talks about Healing Process

Updated: 01/09/2014 7:56 AM
Created: 01/08/2014 9:49 PM KSTP.com
By: Beth McDonough

Two young children died and three others were injured when a car careened into a pond in St. Louis Park along Highways 100 and 7 in November.

JR Rennie lost one child and almost two others. Six people were in the car -- one adult and five children.

Rennie talks about how he's coping and how the kids are doing. He says talking is therapeutic for him and revealing for the rest of us.

Rennie is so soft-spoken that you almost have to lean in to hear what he has to say, but it's worth it. "All of them entrusted us with their safety," he said. "It's nothing that was done on purpose, but that safety was compromised."

The safety of Rennie's two children: Zenavia and Zarihana.

Two belong to his girlfriend: Alarious and Amani. They also have a one-year-old daughter together, Aliyana.

"We just kind of were doing the best we could," he said.

Rennie says the family was rushing to get out of the house and drive him to work. All seven of them crowded into the only car that ran.

"That's not how we wanted it to be," he said, "We have another vehicle, a Suburban, but it was down for repairs."

Even though his girlfriend, Marian Guerrido, didn't have a valid license -- only a learner's permit -- she dropped him off and headed back home. It's a decision he now questions in hindsight, thinking "you shouldn't have let her drive."

On the way back to Brooklyn Center, the car slid off the wet road and plunged into the frigid pond. Guerrido crawled out, but the five children were trapped in the car under icy water. Two of them were in there for too long to be saved: 7-year-old Alarious and 5-year-old Zenavia.

"I try to stay away from being bitter," he said. "It tends to not help things."

Three others: Amani, Aliyana and Zarihana survived the ordeal.

"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," Rennie said. "The truth of the matter is everybody was involved."

The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating, which includes reviewing the black box from the car. As of now, the driver, Marian Guerrido, hasn't been charged with a crime.

Watch the complete interview with Rennie here, and watch part 2 here.


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