A 5-year-old girl died early Thursday after her father threw her off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, according to St. Petersburg police.
Authorities say 26-year-old John Nicholas Jonchuck, Jr. tossed Phoebe, his daughter, off the Dick Misener Bridge just after midnight.
An officer was on the way home heading southbound on I-275 when he was passed by a Chrysler PT Cruiser going 100 mph. He tried to pull over the car and that’s when Jonchuck Jr. stopped and threw the 5-year-old off the Dick Misener Bridge (on the approach to the Skyway). She fell 62 feet and into the freezing waters of the Boca Ciega Bay.
The officer saw Jonchuck Jr. get in the car and drive over the Sunshine Skyway into Manatee County. Officers there stopped him 30 minutes later near the University Parkway exit.
The officer figured out a way to get down to the water to find the girl. He wasn’t concerned about getting Jonchuck Jr.
At this time, many agencies including the St. Petersburg Fire Rescue and the U.S. Coast Guard began searching for the girl. The Eckerd College dive team found her and tried to revive her. She was rushed to All Children’s Hospital and was pronounced dead.
Jonchuck Jr. was transported to St. Petersburg for questioning and is charged with 1st-degree murder, aggravated assault of a officer, and fleeing and eluding. Aggravated assault with a motor vehicle on a law enforcement officer.
Detectives are unsure why Jonchuck Jr. tossed the girl over the bridge. The officer who witnessed the incident is now at home resting. There will be a press conference at noon, at which time we are expecting to learn his name.
Jonchuck has been arrested on multiple occasions the past four months. One such charge includes battery on his mother during an argument.
He is expected to be arraigned in court today at 1:30 p.m.