Tourists Call for Help when Man Allegedly Throws Son Off Boat

The boy was hauled to safety aboard another boat in Newport Harbor

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011  |  Updated 10:17 PM PDT
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A father allegedly threw his 7-year-old son off a tour boat after an argument Sunday in Newport Harbor, according to the sheriff's department.

Several other people on the boat called 911 for help.

"I'm on a boat tour called 'The Queen' and there's a man who just threw his son overboard," said one caller. "The man is coming back on our ship, on our boat right now, or he's trying to."

"Everybody's scared that he's on the boat," according to another person who called 911, "and they don't want him to be on the boat. We need somebody immediately."

The boy was pulled from the water and onto a nearby boat, said Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

"One of the boats scooped up the boy to safety,'' said Amormino. "The father finally jumped in the water but his son was already picked up by then."

Sheriff's harbor patrol deputy William Nelson said the incident happened on a busy Sunday in the harbor's heaviest traffic area.

"We have the ferry lane there. Boats coming in and out of the ocean go right through this area all day long," said Nelson.

Briles apparently threw his son off the bow of the boat.

"The boy's swimming ability is described as only 'fair at best.' The ocean is very dangerous. Even though you're in the harbor, you literally have hundreds of boats in the harbor," said Amormino.

Sloane Briles, 35, was arrested Sunday afternoon when he was still aboard the Pavillion Queen (pictued, below). He was on the sight-seeing trip with his two sons, ages 7 and 6, and his girlfriend.

The two adults began arguing, Amormino said.

"For some reason, he hit the boy and then threw him overboard," said Amormino.

Briles jumped in the water and then climbed back aboard the boat after his son was rescued by a nearby boat, Amormino said. Once aboard the Pavillion Queen, Briles became "combative and had to be taken down by the deputies," Amormino said.

The man's girlfriend said Briles was rough-housing with his son and that the incident was a big misunderstanding.

"He was just messing around with his kids and thought it would be fun and thought wrong," said Jennifer Burrelli.

She added that investigators are also going too far.

"They kept pushing, about five different officers coming in and out, one at a time trying to get the boys to say that he was hitting them," she said. "And, they were like 'no, daddy was just being silly.'"

Briles was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and resisting arrest. He was released after posting bond, according to the sheriff's department.

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