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Associated Press, Published November 30 2013

Official: Too soon to link pond's location, deaths

ST. PAUL — The pond in St. Louis Park where two children died when a car veered off a highway ramp is one of hundreds of retention basins near roadways in the Twin Cities, and the state patrol says it's too soon to say whether the pond's location had a role in the crash.

Three other children survived when Marion Guerrido went off the roadway and dropped down an embankment into the pond. The car sank in 9 feet of water. Guerrido, 23, of Brooklyn Center, escaped. The three children remain hospitalized.

Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the agency's inquiry in the crash could take weeks or months. Officials there then plan to release their findings to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman for review.

Roeske said he has seen and heard people speculate about the role the retention basin played in the crash. Such talk is premature, he said, adding the agency needs “to determine the facts of the case before we make statements about what contributed or may have contributed to the incident.”

“I know there's a lot of outcry about retention ponds and why there wasn't a guardrail,” he said. “I've seen those statements, but we really need to wait and reserve judgment until the investigation is complete and deal with the factors that were truly involved.”

Crashes into these ponds are not “a common occurrence, by any means,” he said.

The state transportation department said it doesn't have ready statistics for how many motorists wind up in them each year.

More than 600 retention basins, or ponds, are near roadways in the Twin Cities, according to the newspaper. They serve as flood control and prevent contaminants from draining into the sewer system.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, which the basin Guerrido crashed into is part of, requires the state to put in a retention pond for every 10,000 square feet of pavement it lays. Runoff from the pavement winds up in the basin, and the chemicals that don't evaporate sink to the bottom and have to be cleaned out from time to time.

The State Patrol has said the blacktop was wet at the time of the crash, but it has not said how fast Guerrido was driving on the ramp, which has a 25 mph speed limit.

But state officials have said that Guerrido had a driver's permit that required her to have a licensed driver in the car with her but she didn't.