This saddens me deeply.

A 5-year old girl died early Thursday morning, police said, when her father threw her from the southbound approach to the Sunshine Skyway.

The incident reportedly began just after midnight when a St. Petersburg Police officer was driving home, headed south toward the Sunshine Skyway, and he was passed by a Chrysler PT Cruiser going an estimated 100 mph.

The officer turned on his flashing lights to stop the car, but when it was near the top of the Dick Misener Bridge on the Skyway approach, the officer saw the driver stop, and leave the car. He lifted the girl under her arms, held her over the railing and dropped her to the water 62 feet below.

The officer saw the man get back in the car and continue southward. John Nicholas Jonchuck Jr., 25, of 3604 W Beach St. in Tampa was eventually stopped by Manatee County authorities after entering Interstate 75 heading the wrong way. He was taken to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office for questioning.

A search for the girl began immediately, as southbound lanes of Interstate 275 were closed. The Coast Guard assisted.

She was found by an Eckerd College Search and Rescue team about a half-mile east of where she was thrown into the water, police said. They tried to revive her, but she was pronounced dead after she was taken to the hospital sometime before 3:20 a.m.

She was later identified as Jonchuck's daughter, Phoebe Jonchuck. Her mother, who was not immediately identified, lives in the area and was contacted by police. Her father had custody of Phoebe, and she lived with him.

The suspect was later taken to the St. Petersburg Police Department for further questioning, and was scheduled to be moved to the Pinellas County Jail shortly afterward. A police spokesperson said he faced charges of first-degree murder, fleeing police and aggravated assault on an officer with a motor vehicle.

No further information was immediately available.
Police: Girl, 5, dies after father throws her from Sunshine Skyway approach