Jon Dowler: Cops say dad who 'loved his girls' opened car's hatch before he drowned saving his daughters

Jon Dowler: Cops say dad who 'loved his girls' opened car's hatch before he drowned saving his daughters
Jon Paul Dowler, 52, accidentally drove into Lake Macatawa in Michigan with his two daughters still inside the car (GoFundMe)

HOLLAND, MICHIGAN: A Michigan father who died saving his little girls after he accidentally drove into a freezing lake may have popped the hood of his SUV to help his little girls escape. On Sunday, January 22, Jon Paul Dowler, 52, seemed to have been disoriented after he accidentally drove his car into Lake Macatawa, Michigan with two of his daughters, aged 10 and 8, still inside. 

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Police said Jon was unable to escape the tragic incident but they believe he saved his two daughters by opening the car's back hatch through the driver's seat trunk switch. The girls were stuck wet and soaking the entire night in 30-degree weather on a nearby porch till the next morning. Eventually, they were able to swim to safety and reach the coast. The girls were saved by good samaritans who also called the police. 

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Police said the car's back trunk did not have a handle on the inside of the door so it is likely the heroic father opened it himself as the car continued to sink into the frigid lake. "He was trying to break his windows to get out," Ottawa County sheriff's Lieutenant Eric Westveer said, adding it looked like he may have managed to get the trunk open.

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He added the authorities are still trying to unravel the full story from the girls but noted they were taking things slow because of the trauma they have been through. "We're still trying to talk to the girls," he said. "It sounds like they were lost and disoriented. They were trying to get home," according to Daily Mail.

The crash has been ruled as an accident, but the circumstances leading to the crash continue to remain under investigation. “Jon loved his girls and he would never do anything to hurt them," said Lorelei Denton, a longtime friend of Jon’s wife Jennifer. She added, “They are very good people,” reported MLive. Denton said, "It is hard to fathom what the girls went through that horrifying night." “Nobody can imagine that,” she said, describing them as “strong” girls.

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Denton has also since set up a GoFundMe account for the family and asked for emotional and financial support for them as they cope with their loss. "Jenny and the girls are gonna need, not just loving support from her friends, family, and community but also financial help getting through the transition of such a sudden tragic loss," read the fundraiser. She continued, "My goal is to help her raise funds to support the immediate financial burdens, so she can focus her time and energy getting herself and the girls through the roughest time of their lives."

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