MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The father of a baby girl who died after the family’s SUV plunged through the ice on Lake Minnetonka has been sentenced for one count of criminal vehicular homicide.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said Jonathan Lawrence Markle was found guilty by Judge Jay Quam. A 57-month prison sentence was stayed, but Markle will be on probation for five years and was ordered to give 100 speeches about the consequences of drinking and driving.
“This was not the sentence we asked for,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said, calling it a tragic case. “But I think it’s an appropriate penalty. The speeches are a great idea. It’s something we have done before when the person takes responsibility.”
According to Freeman, Markle had a blood alcohol content of .13 when the family’s Nissan Rogue broke through the ice between Halstead Bay and Priest Bay on the evening of Jan. 18.
When the ice broke, Markle’s wife, Amanda, and the family’s two daughters — 2-year-old Isabelle and 8-month-old Tabitha – were in the SUV.
All but Tabitha managed to get out to safety.
Fifteen minutes after the car went under the frigid water, Tabitha was cut from her car seat by a dive team. She was then taken to the Ridgeview Waconia Hospital in critical condition, but died three days later.
“A young child died through the recklessness of her father,” said Freeman on Thursday. “These are very, very sad cases.”
This isn’t the first time Markle has faced charges. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to boating while intoxicated.
Freeman hopes other parents learn from Markle’s mistake.
“Nobody should ever drive through a channel,” Freeman said.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has begun a new campaign to remind people of the dangers of driving on lake ice. Already this winter, more than a dozen cars have fell through the ice on Lake Minnetonka.