A 5-year-old girl died after being thrown from a bridge into Tampa Bay early Thursday and her father is facing first-degree murder charges, St. Petersburg police say.
The incident occurred just after midnight, according to MyFoxTampaBay. The girl was pulled from the water and Tampa Police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez told The Associated Press rescuers who found the girl tried to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead at a local hospital 2:44 a.m. Thursday.
John Nicholas Jonchuck’s daughter, Phoebe, fell about 60 feet over the Sunshine Skyway bridge into the bay, St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway said at a news conference.
Fernandez said in an earlier statement that a St. Petersburg police officer saw the suspect throw the girl in the water. A St. Petersburg Police Officer was heading home southbound toward the bridge when he said a Chrysler PT Cruiser passed him going about 100 miles per hour. Once he’d reached the top of the bridge and entered the approach to the Skyway, the officer said the driver stopped his white PT Cruiser.
Holloway said Jonchuck, 25, got out and started toward the officer, who pulled his weapon. But Jonchuck went around to the passenger side of the car and got the child out.
The officer “thought he heard the child scream, but he wasn’t sure,” Holloway said. The officer then saw the man throw the child over, into the strong bay current.
Jonchuck then got back in the car and drove south for about 30 minutes before officials said Manatee County authorities stopped him near an exit.
“The suspect drove off,” Holloway said. “He just drove off.”
Holloway said Jonchuck turned his blinker on and stopped before starting again and driving toward deputies. He then headed the wrong way on the interstate, going back toward the bridge. Deputies put out traffic spikes to stop the vehicle.
Jonchuck was arrested and brought back to St. Petersburg for questioning. He’s being held without bond on the murder charge.