Police: Girl, 5, dies after father tosses her off bridge

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By Ed Payne and Tina Burnside

(CNN) — A 5-year-old Florida girl was killed after her father tossed her from a bridge from his car, police said Thursday.

As a St. Petersburg police officer was driving home just after midnight, he saw a car whiz past him, driving about 100 miles per hour, authorities said.

When the car neared the top of the Dick Misener Bridge, the driver stopped.

John Nicholas Jonchuck, Jr. (Credit: Pinellas County Jail)

John Nicholas Jonchuck, Jr. (Credit: Pinellas County Jail)

“The man reached into the back seat, grabbed his little girl, held her under the arms and then threw her over the railing and into water,” St. Petersburg police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez told CNN affiliate WFLA.

“The officer heard the splash and immediately tried to climb down underneath the bridge … to try to save her, but the current was very strong there.”

WFLA reports that it’s about a 62-foot drop to the water from that point on the bridge.

The father drove off but was later arrested in neighboring Manatee County.

The body of the girl was later recovered.

Police have charged John Jonchuck Jr, 25, with murder in the death of his daughter Phoebe. He is being held at the Pinellas County Jail.

Police have not disclosed a motive.

CNN’s Rick Martin and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.

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