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Father Charged with Vehicular Homicide in Connection With Daughter's Drowning

Prosecutors say Jonathan Markle was legally drunk when the family's vehicle sunk in a channel last month.

The father of an infant who drowned after their family vehicle broke through the ice on Lake Minnetonka last month has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide.

Prosecutors say Jonathan Markle's blood alcohol level was .13 when he attempted to drive underneath the Halstead Bay Bridge Jan. 18. The vehicle sunk in about six feet of water, trapping nine-month-old Tabitha Markle for more than 15 minutes.

Jonathan Markle told police that he had two beers at dinner, but prosecutors say a blood sample tested nearly twice the legal limit. Markle has a prior DWI conviction on his driving record, according to court records.

Related posts:

  • Obituary: Tabitha Rose Markle
  • Baby Dies From Injuries Suffered in Friday Accident on Lake Minnetonka
  • Two Victims Pulled from Icy Waters of Grays Bay Were Trapped for 'Nearly an Hour'

Hennepin County Mike Freeman said Thursday that the legal system has "no penalty that can approach the grief and agony this man might feel by the death of his daughter at his own hand."

Freeman went on to say, however, that he wants this case to illustrate that "this conduct is simply not acceptable."

The maximum penalty for a defendant convicted of criminal vehicular homicide can be up to 10 years in prison. Jonathan Markle will make first court appearance Friday afternoon in Hennepin County Court.

Tabitha was strapped in her car seat when her family's vehicle—headed home from dinner at a lakeside restaurant—broke through the ice around 5 p.m. Jan. 18. She was submerged 15-20 minutes before first responders were able to free her.

A volunteer Mound firefighter who lives on the lake was returning home when he heard screams coming from the channel underneath the Halstead Bay Bridge. The firefighter was first to reach the scene and was praised by Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek for playing a crucial role in getting Tabitha's mother and older sister, who were also in the vehicle, to safety.

Jonathan Markle made several attempts to reach his daughter. She was rescued by divers and first taken by ambulance to Waconia. She later transported by helicopter to Children's Hospital.

A report released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office classified Tabitha's death as an accidental drowning. Tabitha died just after 2:30 a.m. Monday morning, Jan. 21

Tabitha was the first fatality of the season on Lake Minnetonka. Two other people drowned over the weekend after their vehicle broke through the ice underneath the Grays Bay Bridge.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office has taken additional safety measures in the wake of the accidents, placing bright orange fencing and "thin ice" signs near some of Lake Minnetonka's areas known to be prone to thin ice conditions.

Lake Minnetonka Patch will have additional updates on this story as they become available.

walter erickson February 08, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Come on idiots! DRUNK or not!Common sense should tell you that there is moving water&thin Ice in&around channels!
Sanderson February 08, 2013 at 01:54 PM
I pray.....
Robinsons Bay mom February 08, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I think the mother should be charged too...she (as an adult) should have used the thing between her ears called a brain! And for what it's worth...my good friend took care of this little girl at the hospital and it was HORRIBLE!
john s February 08, 2013 at 03:51 PM
How Tragic. This guy will suffer the rest of his life for this. The people it will hurt the most if he goes to jail is his wife and other child. Jail is not a solution for everything.
Robinsons Bay mom February 08, 2013 at 03:54 PM
John- so had this man driven on the road with a BAL of .13 and killed someone on the freeway...you'd still say he didn't have to pay a price by jail time?
Maggie MD February 08, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Mom should be charged with something too, at least probation and have to attend parenting classes. And she is a teacher in the bloomington school system? She should gave refused to get in the car and let those little girls in the car. She should have protected them above all else even if it was from their own father. She failed that poor baby girl, who was probably crying out for mama as she drowned.
john s February 08, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Robinsons Bay Mom. No. I do know how it feels to lose a child. My son passed away a few months ago. I don't think I could bear it if I had been the cause. I think this guy is going to really suffer.
Nicholas.g.c February 08, 2013 at 05:10 PM
I agree with everyone's comments. Mostly that the mother is equally at fault.
Patrick Fitzgerald February 08, 2013 at 05:41 PM
I agree the spouse should insist on taking keys and driving (or not travelling) when the drinking parent has enough to make .08 blood alchohol (the legal limit). It is calculated by the weight of the drinker and oz drank diminished by time since imbibed. In many cases just waiting a few hours can make a difference.
Patrick Fitzgerald February 08, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Here is a Weight Based Male/Female Blood-Alc Table so lookup your spouse & you - http://www.sessoms.com/minnesota-drunk-driving-defense/bac-level

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