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Father accused of throwing son off boat says he was joking

By the CNN Wire Staff
Sloane Briles, 35, has been charged with felony child endangerment and resisting arrest, police said.
Sloane Briles, 35, has been charged with felony child endangerment and resisting arrest, police said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "We were having fun. We thought it would be funny," the father says
  • A man allegedly hits his 7-year-old son, then throws the boy overboard
  • Three passing boats rescue the boy from Newport Harbor
  • The father is charged with felony child endangerment and resisting arrest

(CNN) -- A father accused of smacking his crying 7-year-old and throwing the child off a moving boat says he did nothing wrong.

Sloane Briles, 35, of Irvine, California, has been charged with felony child endangerment and resisting arrest, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

He was released on bond on Monday.

Briles told CNN affiliate KTLA "we were having fun, it was a harbor cruise!" He said he did not hit his son and he "did nothing except jump in the water with my kid."

Briles, who's divorced, was on the tour boat Sunday afternoon with his two sons, ages 6 and 7, when he got into an argument with his current girlfriend, said sheriff's office spokesman Jim Amormino.

The boat takes passengers past Newport Beach houses that are or were occupied by celebrities, including the home where the late John Wayne lived, Amormino said.

His 7-year-old son became upset about the argument and started crying, Amormino said.

The father took the boy to the bow of the boat and told him, " 'If you don't stop crying, I'm going to throw you overboard,' " Amormino said.

"And he hits the kid a couple of times," Amormino said. "The boy is crying. He picks him up and throws him overboard. They are in the middle of a harbor, and there is a lot of boat traffic."

Briles disputed the police and witnesses account of the event and said it was just a joke.

"We jumped in together," Briles told the affiliate. " We thought it would be funny. We were just screwing around."

Kid-throwing dad defends himself

The boy's life was endangered several ways, authorities said.

"The main one was throwing him off the front of the boat because the boat could run over him. There was the danger of him being hit by the prop. And the other danger is that because there are so many boats out there, it's no place to swim, and because he's so small, the other boats wouldn't have seen him," Amormino said.

The boy was also "only a fair swimmer," Amormino said.

"But luckily, three boats saw the kid and converged on him, and plucked him from the water," Amormino said.

"The father did jump in (after his son), but the crowd on the boat became angry when he was hitting the kid and became more angry when he threw him overboard," Amormino said. There were 85 people on the tour boat.

A sheriff's patrol boat responded to a call about the incident. After deputies boarded the tour boat, one of them suffered minor injuries to the hand and elbow during Briles' arrest, authorities said.

Deputies took the two boys to their harbor station and later turned them over to their mother, Amormino said.

CNN's Michael Martinez and Stella Chan contributed to this report.

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