ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (AP) — A car veered off a rain-slicked highway ramp in suburban Minneapolis early Thursday, landing in a nearby holding pond and trapping five children underwater for up to 45 minutes until a tow truck could pull it out, authorities said.
The children's conditions weren't immediately known, although St. Louis Park city spokeswoman Jamie Zwilling said they were unresponsive when they were pulled from the car. The driver of the car, a 23-year-old woman, made it out on her own as the car sank. She was in stable condition.
Lt. Eric Roeske, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol, told reporters the children — ages 1, 5, 5, 6 and 7 — were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. He said he did not have their conditions, and hospital spokeswoman Christine Hill said their conditions were not available.
Roeske later issued a short update saying the first victim was pulled from the water about 25 minutes after the crash was reported about 6:10 a.m., but the last wasn't removed until her or she had been in the water 45 minutes.
The woman's relationship to the children wasn't immediately known, Roeske said at a news conference, and names won't be released until families are notified.
The crash happened in St. Louis Park, a western Minneapolis suburb. Roeske said the car veered left off the ramp from Highway 7 to Highway 100 and plunged down a slope into the pond about 40 to 50 yards from the roadway. He said there was no guardrail separating the pond from the ramp.
Passersby who saw the car attempted to rescue the children, but it was submerged in 8 to 9 feet of cold water. Roeske said he was told one good Samaritan stood on the roof of the four-door sedan, and the "incredibly cold, nearly freezing-temperature water" was up to his neck, which would have made it difficult for anyone to reach the children.
The city fire department and the Hennepin County sheriff's dive team responded and used tow trucks to pull the sedan out of the water.
"Once the vehicle was removed from the water, we found that there were five other occupants, all children," he said.
Zwilling said firefighters didn't wait for the tow truck to get the car all the way to shore. He said they started breaking windows and pulling out the children as soon as the water was shallow enough.Roeske also said it wasn't clear whether speed was a factor in the crash. The road was wet from light mist, but not icy, he said. He said there was no indication that the woman intentionally drove into the water.