Baby pulled from Minn. lake diesby Nancy Lebens, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — An infant girl has died after being pulled from her family's submerged sport utility vehicle in Lake Minnetonka last Friday.
Tabitha Markle of Minnetrista, who was 8 months old, died early Monday at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, according to the Hennepin County medical examiner. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning.
The girl was strapped in the back seat of the family's SUV when the vehicle went through the ice late Friday afternoon in the channel between Halstead Bay and Priests Bay.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says the 41-year-old father was driving his 31-year-old wife, 2-year-old daughter and the infant home from a restaurant when he decided to take a shortcut across the ice. Firefighters in protective suits pulled the baby from the SUV. The other family members were treated and released. The sheriff's office and Orono police are investigating to see if alcohol was involved.
The sheriff's office is using this case as a reminder to residents to use extreme caution on the ice on lakes or other bodies of water. Freezing and thawing have created variable ice conditions, and it's often difficult to determine when ice is safe for walking or driving a vehicle.
Channels of Lake Minnetonka are particularly dangerous and should be avoided, even by people on foot, authorities say, adding that the ice in a channel is weak due to water constantly running from one bay to another bay.
Seven vehicles have broken through thin ice on Lake Minnetonka in recent days, according to the sheriff's office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Nancy Lebens is an editor for MPR News.