PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who was killed when he crashed his vehicle into Lake Macatawa near Holland in January was more than twice the legal limit, according to an autopsy report.
Toxicology tests found Jon Dowler’s blood alcohol content level was .18 and that he had methamphetamine and marijuana in his system, reports from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office show. Michigan’s legal limit is .08.
Dowler, 52, of Otsego, drove into Lake Macatawa where Jenison Avenue ends north of Lakeway Drive in the early hours of Jan. 22. His daughters, ages 8 and 10, were able to escape because the back hatch opened.
The sheriff’s office said it has surveillance video showing Dowler’s car drive into the lake. It was “traveling at a high rate of speed,” and “appears there was little to no braking involved,” a detective wrote in a report. About 15 minutes later, the two girls can be seen in the video walking past a yacht club, wet and crying, the sheriff’s report reads.
They huddled together for warmth through the night before they found neighbors to help them. First responders found Dowler dead in the car.
Father and daughters were on their way home from spending time with friends. Dowler’s wife, who reported him and their daughters missing, told deputies that she had advised her husband to stay the night at the friends’ house if he had too much to drink. She said he had a history of “making poor decisions regarding drinking and driving,” a detective’s report read.
His wife said she had heard from Dowler in a phone call around 1:30 a.m., at which point he sounded drunk and slurred his words. He told her he would see her in a few minutes and hung up the phone, she told deputies.
One of the friends Dowler and the girls had been visiting that night told deputies he had been drinking and, as far as she knew, only had “two to three beers,” a detective’s report reads. She and her husband asked if he wanted to spend the night with the girls, but Dowler refused and left the home around 12:30 a.m., saying he thought he was OK.
Investigators determined the crash was accidental.