The father of a five-year-old girl who was thrown to her death off a bridge in Tampa Bay has been charged with murder.

John Jonchuck Jr, 25, was arrested half an hour after a man was seen speeding towards a bridge and throwing a child 60ft into the water last night.

Rescuers found and tried to resuscitate Phoebe Jonchuk but she could not be saved.

An officer saw a PT Cruiser pass him at about 100mph at round midnight last night, heading southbound towards the Sunshine Skyway, police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said.

The officer gave chase and saw the driver reach the top of Dick Misener Bridge and enter the approach to the Skyway.

The driver, who police believe was the girl’s father, was then seen stopping and throwing a child over the side of the rail into the water off Boca Ciega Bay.

Police say the girl was alive when she was thrown.

He then returned to the car and drove south but was stopped by Manatee County authorities about 30 minutes later.

Jonchuk was arrested and has been charged with first-degree murder.