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2 children left in the cold overnight after father crashes car into Ottawa Co. lake

Police say the body of Jon Dowler, 52, was located inside the car. The two young girls who were inside the car at the time of the crash were able to escape.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Two children survived after escaping from a car, after their father, a 52-year-old Otsego man, crashed into Lake Macatawa overnight.

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office says the man driving was pulled out of the water and pronounced dead. He was later identified as Jon Paul Dowler. 

Police were dispatched to the lake around 9 a.m. on reports of a vehicle in the water in the area of Jenison Avenue and Lakeway Drive in Park Township.

"The vehicle just essentially drove off the end of the road right into the lake," says Lt. Eric Westveer of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.

Lt. Westveer says they have determined the crash to be an accident.

Investigation showed that two children, ages 8 and 10, were in the car at the time of crash, but were able to escape through the emergency exit in the trunk.

Credit: 13 On Your Side
A tow truck pulls the car from Lake Macatawa in Ottawa Co.

Both were soaking wet and left in the cold after attempting to door knock for help.

"They did try to knock on some doors, but there were no answers because those are summer cottages and there's nobody in residence at the time," says Lt. Westveer.

The kids huddled together on a porch to stay warm, before finally finding a homeowner to help.

13 ON YOUR SIDE spoke to that person: 

At 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning, a little girl knocked on the door of Kevin Macleod and his wife's home in Park Township asking for help. She, along with her sister and father were in the car that drove into Lake Macatawa at around 2:00 a.m. that morning. The two girls took shelter on a porch, freezing cold and wet, until seeking help 7 hours later from the Macleods. The two girls were taken to the hospital for medical evaluation. Here's a portion of our interview with Kevin Macleod who gives his perspective of what happened Sunday morning 13 On Your Side

Posted by Micah Cho on Sunday, January 22, 2023

The children were taken to the hospital and treated for cold exposure before being released Sunday afternoon. Their identities will not be released, according to police.

Around 2 p.m., the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office dive team located the car in Lake Macatawa, and Dowler's body was found inside the car.

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