Night had fallen over the Wanaque River in northern New Jersey. A few minutes after 8 p.m., John Spincken stood at the edge of the Interstate 287 overpass with both of his little boys, 100 feet above the chilly waters.
Moments later all three plunged from the bridge, according to state police. The toddlers, ages 1 and 3, survived the fall. But they were left fatherless as the 37-year-old resident of Pequannock, New Jersey, died in an apparent suicide Monday, state police said.
“When the officers found the children conscious and alert, it was nothing short of a miracle, that’s for sure,” said Capt. Christopher DePuyt of the Pequannock Township Police Department at a news conference Tuesday.
Police called to domestic dispute
Police had responded early Monday to a residence in Pequannock Township for a domestic dispute call, DePuyt said.
A woman there told officers that she had argued with her husband and that he had threatened to harm the children. Shortly after, he had taken off with their boys in his car, the statement said.
Authorities tracked down the vehicle using the GPS signal on the man’s phone, DePuyt said.
Under the bridge
Authorities found Spincken’s car on the shoulder of the Interstate 287 overpass. Police then discovered the two children injured but conscious in a wooded area beneath the bridge.
Spincken, found in the same location, was pronounced dead at the scene within an hour after the initial report, police said.
Paramedics treated both children at the scene before transporting them to the St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey.
Wait, how did the children survive?
According to DePuyt, trees underneath the bridge might have broken the fall of each of the toddlers. That’s one reason why they’re likely both alive.
“I, like anybody that’s hearing this story now or last night, if you hear the beginning of the story you’re expecting the worst,” DePuyt said.
Police are asking for any possible witnesses to come forward so they can determine if Spincken threw the children off the bridge and then jumped, or if he was holding them when he jumped.
State police said the investigation is active and ongoing.
Both children were in fair condition at St. Joseph’s on Wednesday morning, hospital spokeswoman Liz Asani said.