A 25-year-old father allegedly tossed his 5-year-old daughter over the rail of a bridge to her death on Thursday in Tampa, Florida.
US News reports that John Jonchuck pulled his car over early Thursday morning on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Jonchuck allegedly then took his daughter from the backseat of his vehicle, pressed her head up against his chest and threw her over the rail.
According to a statement made by St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway during a news conference, Jonchuck’s daughter fell nearly 60 feet into the bay just after midnight.
An officer on his way home after his shift had ended spotted Jonchuck’s vehicle speeding past him in a Chrysler PT Cruiser at a speed of close to 100 miles per hour. By the time the officer caught up with the vehicle, according to the police chief, Jonchuck had already pulled over.
Holloway states that the 25-year-old father got out of the vehicle and headed toward the police officer, which caused the officer to pull his weapon. However, Jonchuck actually headed to the passenger side of the vehicle in order to retrieve his daughter.
The officer believes that he heard the child scream, but he does not know for sure. Holloway reports that the officer watched as the 25-year-old father then threw his daughter over the bridge into the intense bay current below.
Officers claim that John Jonchuck returned to his vehicle after tossing his daughter over the bridge and drove off, heading south.
Two nearby officers followed Jonchuck as he headed into Manatee County. The report confirms that Jonchuck did stop his vehicle after turning his blinker on, but he restarted the vehicle shortly thereafter. The 25-year-old father then drove in the wrong direction on the Interstate, heading back toward the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Traffic spikes were placed on the road by deputies in order to successfully stop the vehicle.
Phoebe’s body was recovered an hour and a half later nearly one mile away from the bridge. Revival attempts made by rescue crews were unsuccessful, and the young girl was pronounced dead at 2:44 A.M.
Jonchuck was arrested and taken to St. Petersburg for questioning. He faces first-degree murder charges in addition to aggravated fleeing and eluding police, as well as aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.
John Jonchuck is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon, and the autopsy on his daughter’s body is currently pending.