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No Felony Charges In Pond Crash That Killed 2 Children

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The prosecutor says it was an easy call to make: The driver of a car full of children that crashed into a retention pond last fall will not be charged with a felony.

On the morning of Nov. 21, Marian Guerrido was driving with her three kids and two of her boyfriend's children when the car went under water in a retention pond near the ramp from Minnesota 7 to Minnesota 100 in St. Louis Park. The children were not all restrained, and she did not have a license to be driving.

One of Guerrido's children and one of her boyfriend's were killed. They were 7-year-old Alarious Guerrido and 5-year-old Zenavia Rennie. The other children were hospitalized.

Although driving without a license is against the law, the Hennepin County Attorney said it doesn't warrant felony criminal charges.

"This is a horrible, horrible, tragic situation," said Mike Freeman. "And the criminal justice system is not set up and it shouldn't and it hasn't and it will not, in this case, get involved, and we think that's the right decision."

He says because the driver was not drinking or driving erratically, it wasn't vehicular homicide or gross negligence.

As for the children not being restrained? And her not having a license?

"None of those actions by themselves or in conjunction constitute the definition of grossly negligent in a criminal context," Freeman said.

He says the accident wasn't even close to being a crime. He says it was not a decision based on emotion.

But according to an outside attorney, by law, emotion is allowed to come into play when prosecutors decide whether or not to file charges.

"Human emotion, human compassion, human sympathy all can play into this," said former county attorney Marsh Halberg. "They have to make the hard call: Is this a case we really want to drag someone through the criminal system for? And they've chose that it's not."

Halberg says he expects the city to come forward with some low level driving charges but says it's unlikely Guerrido will serve jail time.

Shaniece Thompson, the mother of one of the children hospitalized after the crash, said that she has words on the decision not to prosecute. She said she's simply absorbing the news.

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