Despite pleas from his girlfriend that the whole thing was just a silly misunderstanding, an Irvine man is now facing six years in prison for allegedly throwing his son off a tour boat in Newport Harbor.
Sloan Steven Briles, 35, was charged Wednesday with one felony count of child abuse and endangerment and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer.
Witnesses said that on Aug. 28, Briles was arguing with his girlfriend aboard "the Pavilion Queen," a harbor cruise boat in Newport Harbor. He was on the sight-seeing trip with his two sons, ages 7 and 6, and his girlfriend.
"The suspect struck his son several times, and threatened his child that if he would not stop crying, he would throw him overboard," said Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.
Briles then allegedly carried out the threat, throwing the 7-year-old off the boat, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
"At that time, the Queen was in a busy boating area with a large amount of boat traffic, so the first mate stalled the boat and maneuvered it to protect the child from being struck by another vessel. The captain threw the crying child, who was treading water, a life ring," according to a statement from the DA.
Although Briles did jump in the water, prosecutors allege he did so to avoid angry passengers and made "no attempt to swim to his son's aid."
The boat's passengers called 911.
"Everybody's scared that he's on the boat and they don't want him to be on the boat. We need somebody immediately," said one caller.
Briles allegedly resisted arrest, "ignoring the deputies' orders to stand, struggling with them as they attempted to help him to his feet, and making his body go limp to make it difficult as deputies tried to remove him from the boat," according to the DA.
Briles, who went to high school in San Diego, was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time, according to prosecutors.
His girlfriend, who was aboard at the time of the alleged incident, defended Briles, saying, "he was just messing around with his kids and thought it would be fun, and thought wrong."
Briles is currently out of custody on $100,000 bail, according to the DA. His arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 26.