Infant dies days after being trapped underwater in SUV

2:21 PM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
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MINNETRISTA, Minn. - The infant pulled from a car that went through the ice on Lake Minnetonka on Friday night has died, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.

Tabitha Markle died as a result of drowning. According to the report, the manner of death has been ruled an accident, however, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the Orono Police Department are still investigating the incident. They said alcohol might have been a factor in the crash.

The parents have been identified as 31-year-old Amanda Markle and 41-year-old Jonathan Markle, who was driving and took a shortcut by driving on Lake Minnetonka. The car fell through the ice on a channel leading to the family's home.

The parents were able to escape the car with their 2-year-old daughter, Isabelle, but Tabitha, who was 8 months old, was trapped in her car seat for about 15 minutes before she was pulled from the water. 

Emergency crews responded to the scene just after 5 p.m. on Friday on the County Road 44 Bridge between Halsted and Priest Bays in Minnetrista.

Paul Bardine, a neighbor who was in the area at the time, said he heard sirens and ran down to the scene where a police officer told him a family of four was in the car.

Orono police say Tabitha was transported to a hospital in an ambulance. Stanek said the baby was in critical condition.

Speaking to the media Friday night, Stanek said a man who lives nearby, an off duty firefighter for the city of Mound, was the first to respond to the vehicle. That man was able to assist the mother and 2-year-old out of the water before emergency crews responded to the scene.

The woman's husband was trying to rescue the baby, who was strapped in the backseat of the submerged vehicle. Two Mound firefighters wearing protective suits pulled the baby out.

Bardine lives next to the channel where the car went in and said it's an area known to have thin ice. He said numerous cars and snowmobiles have gone through the ice in the same place over the years.

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