National News

Fourth annual memorial ride for Phoebe Jonchuck to raise money for scholarship fund

Posted March 25, 2018 6:11 p.m. EDT

— Dozens gathered at the shoreline on Sunday to remember a 5-year-old girl who lost her life after her father tossed her over a bridge in 2015. The group tossed flowers into the water.

"She was always picking me flowers. I just never thought I'd have to bring her flowers like this," said Michelle Jonchuck, the girl's grandmother.

John Jonchuck was arrested in January of 2015. Police say his vehicle was seen speeding and then it abruptly stopped on the Dick Misener Bridge. He ignored an officer's commands and threw his little girl from the side of the bridge.

A Pinellas County judge has ruled he is competent to stand trail.

Pheobe's grandmother thinks about the memories she never had a chance to create.

"I always thought I'd see her at a dance recital one day because she loved to dance and always thought I'd bring her roses like that," said Michelle Jonchuck.

For the fourth consecutive year, a group of motorcyclists rode from Largo to the Dick Misener Bridge in St. Petersburg for a flower drop in honor of Phoebe.

The day started with brunch donated by Bellissimo Italian Eatery at 13220 S. Belcher Road in Largo.

After the ride, the group gathered for a benefit party at Red Tiki, 7361 46th Ave. N. in Pinellas Park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The group raises money for a scholarship fund at St. Petersburg College. A student studying social services will receive a scholarship.

Gem Arnold and her friends started the annual event.

"I work as a dispatcher for Largo Police so I was working the night this all happened and we listened to the radio traffic even though our department was not involved," said Arnold.

John Jonchuck was deemed incompetent in February 2015, the month after prosecutors say he dropped his daughter into Tampa Bay.

In January 2017, state mental health doctors determined John Jonchuck was ready to stand trial. A judge confirmed that decision in March 2017.