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Baby in Critical Condition After Family's SUV Breaks Through Lake Minnetonka Ice

Hennepin County Rich Stanek said nine-month-old was submerged for 15-20 minutes.

Nine-month-old Tabitha Rose Markle is in critical condition after her family's vehicle broke through the ice last night on Lake Minnetonka. First responders rescued the child from about six feet of water after she was submerged for 15-20 minutes, according to Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Tabitha was taken by ambulance to Waconia and later transported by helicopter to Children's Hospital.

Sheriff Stanek said during a news conference Saturday morning that a volunteer Mound fireman, who lives on Lake Minnetonka near where the vehicle went through the ice, was the first to reach the scene. Stanek praised the fireman's quick thinking and training, adding he provided crucial assistance and first aid during the critical first few minutes following the accident.

"This firefighter went way above and beyond," Stanek said.

Three additional members of the Markle family, including a two-year-old female, were also pulled from the water. They were treated and released last night.

The accident occurred on Halstead Bay around 5 p.m. Friday. Sheriff Stanek said alcohol was involved, and a blood alcohol test was administered to 41-year-old Jonathan Markle—Tabitha's father. Results of that test are pending. Jonathan Markle was not arrested, but Sheriff Stanek would not rule out possible criminal charges being filed. 

Tabitha's mother, Amanda Markle, is employed by the Richfield School District.

The area of Halstead Bay where the family's vehicle went into the water—adjacent to County Road 44 in Minnetrista—is notorious for thin ice conditions, and several vehicles have broken through the ice there in recent years.

Friday's accident occurred less than 24 hours after the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office conducted a mock nighttime rescue drill on Lake Minnetonka that simulated a similar scenario. 

Multiple agencies responded to last night's accident, including the Mound Fire Department, Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol and several area police departments.

Two additional vehicles also went through the ice on Lake Minnetonka Friday night, each containing multiple occupants. Those individuals were treated and released from area hospitals. Two of the three cars have been towed from the water. The third remains at the bottom of Lake Minnetonka.

Sheriff Stanek took the unprecedented step of ordering all vehicles off Hennepin County ice last winter and closing all public access points after a rash of accidents blamed on thin ice. Stanek said Saturday that he was not going to take a similar step this season, but he stressed he would take "all necessary steps in order to ensure public safety."

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Cara January 22, 2013 at 02:35 AM
How long is the fathers blood test going to take? How awful for this family. Very reckless of a move to cross the lake in those conditions, especially with children.
Jenny priestley January 22, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Prayers for the family... RIP sweet Tabitha
Joan January 22, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Save your comments until you know all the facts. Why lash out when the family is already greiving. I wonder if you have ever made any mistakes in your life. Many people drive on the lake, we do live in Minnesota!
Tim Jarvi January 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM
I drive on the ice also, however I do NOT take young people with when I do for the simple reason if something like this is going to happen they can't get out by themselves. Drunk or not this father made a very bad choice putting his family in danger.
Nicholas.g.c January 23, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Now they can press charges on that piece of garbage who killed his daughter. Lets just make sure he does not get a break just because he has to deal with his loss.. That is not enough.. If you rob a bank for a good reason like feeding your young son or daughter , Does that mean you should get a break..NO!!! Endangering the life of two or more is a felony...To say the least.
chamlupe January 23, 2013 at 03:11 PM
He didn't kill his daugther..he made a decision to drive on the ice and he has to live with that decision for the rest of his life. This family will be forever changed. And if its so dangerous to drive on the lake, why is it allowed?
Nicholas.g.c January 23, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Sorry my bad..He made a decision to drive UNDER a bridge....Just how many stories does a person have to hear about people driving under bridges and breaking through..1,2,,30. That is about how many have broken through in the past twenty years..I've been ice fishing 30 plus years and never come close to falling in.. And not with a tiny 4500 pound suv. My truck and ice house weigh no less than 11,000 pounds combined. It should not be allowed for lake home owners to drive on the ice. Seeing that they use it for a short cut..Summer lake knowledge does not apply.. You never hear of people pulling there ice house out and falling in.. This guy is an idiot.. Bottom line if your not a ice fisherman stay off the ice.
God heals January 24, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Nicholas, you must be perfect. Please teach us all how you do that. Do you honestly think this poor man honestly thought, wow I'm going to drive my car into the water and kill my daughter? Of course not. How heartless can you be? The poor parents have to live with this for the rest o their lives.
Susan January 24, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Ever read the Bible Nic? Maybe you should keep your comments to yourself and not cast any stones, unless you are perfect. You may make a mistake yourself during your lifetime...something you may regret for the rest of your life. He didn't involve someone elses child, it was his own! The family needs support. You should read your comments again, given the circumstances you just sound foolish.
Susan January 24, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Oh, the story about the woman who was going to be stoned to death? Jesus said to them,"Let those without sin cast the first stone."If you have never made a mistake or done something sinful then go ahead and stone this guy...But I think I will just pray for his very human mistake. His pain and punishment will forever be in his heart. Maybe he didn't know better, maybe he saw you driving out on the ice all day long, and figured it was ok. He probably has a job, provides for his family and never gets out much to sit in a fish house to drink a 12 pack of Blatz beer everyday like you do. But who am I to judge?
Shelli Altringer February 02, 2013 at 09:03 PM
This is very sad I hope the baby is okay, I never could understand driving your car on a frozen lake.
Shelli Altringer February 02, 2013 at 09:03 PM
This is very sad I hope the baby is okay, I never could understand driving your car on a frozen lake.

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