Authorities say it’s a “miracle” that two little boys survived a 100-foot fall Monday night from a New Jersey bridge that killed their apparently disgruntled father after he leapt from the structure with the children in his arms.
John Spincken, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene after he jumped from an overpass near the Wanaque River on Interstate 287 following an argument with his wife, police tell PEOPLE.
But his children — ages 1 and 3 — survived the fall, a fact Pequannock police Capt. Christopher DePuyt says has left authorities a little stunned.
“They did make contact with some trees and foliage on the way to the ground, and the theory is that that helped break some of the fall. But short of that, it’s a miracle that they survived,” Depuyt says.
Depuyt says police received a call from a friend of Spincken’s wife claiming that Spincken had threatened to harm the children, and officials said in a statement that Spincken was involved in a “domestic dispute” before he jumped.
When officials responded to the scene just after 8 p.m. Monday, Spincken’s body was in a wooded area under the bridge, Depuyt says, and the children were conscious and crying nearby.
Police tracked Spincken through his cell phone, Depuyt says.
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The boys were taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, and are now listed in fair condition, Depuyt tells PEOPLE.
“The 1-year-old had a concussion, a fractured rib and a bruised lung,” he says. “The 3-year-old had a concussion, and they’re both expected to make a full and complete recovery.”
Depuyt says it is the first time the department has been called about a domestic dispute involving Spincken. (PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach his family for comment.)
Depuyt says that investigators are still looking to determine a motive for the incident, but notes that it is not uncommon for police to receive reports of people jumping from the bridge.
Authorities said that they believe the act was intentional. CBS reports that the father managed to get past an eight-foot-tall fence before jumping.
In a 2015 Father’s Day post on Facebook, Spincken celebrated his boys, quoting Elizabeth Stone: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”