Michigan Dad Manages To Save 2 Daughters Before Dying Following Plunge Into A Lake

A Michigan father is being remembered as a hero after police say he likely popped open the hatch of his sinking car to save his daughters before he died. Jon Paul Dowler was driving home at night on Sunday with his two daughters, ages 8 and 10, when officials believe he accidentally drove his car into Lake Macatawa.
The hatch of the car, which can only be opened from the front of the vehicle, was released as the car sank, allowing his daughters to escape the vehicle.

The two children found shelter from the cold and were able to find help the following morning. Police told The Holland Sentinel that the girls were able to get out through the back of the car as it sank into the water.

"They stated the back hatch opened and they were able to crawl out of that and then they swam to shore," Ottawa County Sheriff's Office Lt. Eric Westveer told the paper.

Police also noted that it appeared Dowler was trying to break his window open.

"At this point we are still looking into the hatch opening, however all indications point to the father opening it," Westveer told People.

According to People, the girls were “treated for cold exposure” at a local hospital but have since been released.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing; however, police believe it was an accident.

"At this point, we believe that the father became disoriented, not familiar with the area, which ended up (with) him ending up in the water just because of the way that road is constructed there," Westveer told the The Holland Sentinel.

"At the end of the road where the pavement ends, there's about a 20-foot stretch before the water that's kind of sand and gravel," he added. "We did not locate any tire marks in that area, so that tells us that at that point, he was airborne before going into the water."

"It appears to be a pure accident," police told MLive on another occasion.

The girls told police that they were on their way home from visiting a friend. They said they were asleep until they were woken up by the crash.

"They (said) they kind of fell asleep and they (woke up) to the sound of the crash and then hitting the water," Westveer told The Holland Sentinel.

After the girls made it to shore, they tried to find help nearby but couldn’t find anyone around right away.

"They did try and knock on some doors but there were no answers because those were summer cottages and there's nobody in residence at the time," police said told news station WZZM.

The Sentinel reported that the pair were able to find an enclosed porch to spend the night in.

"One of the comments they made to the officer that actually talked to them … they told him that on a TV show, they learned that if you huddle together, you can use each other's body heat to stay warm," Westveer said told WZZM. "They were soaking wet and it was 30 degrees out."

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