SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The mother of a 7-year-old who authorities said was thrown overboard by his father during a sightseeing cruise around California's Newport Harbor has thanked eyewitnesses who called 911, saying she was "extremely grateful."
Christin Briles wasn't on the boat Sunday when the incident occurred, attorney Eric Dubin said. But she said in a statement Wednesday that eyewitness reports "absolutely confirm what her two boys have told her happened on the boat."
Earlier Wednesday, the man in the incident denied that he angrily threw the child overboard because he wouldn't stop crying.
"Honestly, what it was was just boys roughhousing and then screwing around and then jumping off the edge of the boat," Sloane Briles told the syndicated show "Inside Edition."
"We were just screwing around, just showing off, just being guys," he said. "It's not like I threw him off. We went together. It was just like a hand-in-hand thing."
In 911 tapes released Tuesday, passengers expressed shock and disgust after seeing Briles toss the boy into the water.
"I'm on a boat tour called the Queen and there's a man who just threw his son overboard," a woman told an Orange County sheriff's dispatcher.
"This man has been bad on our whole trip and he's swimming back to our boat now," she said.
Another 911 caller said she thought Briles was "drunk and violent."
The 35-year-old Briles was arrested just after 2 p.m. Sunday on suspicion of child endangerment and resisting arrest, sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said. He posted bail after his arrest and hasn't been charged.
Amormino said Briles was on the tour with his girlfriend and two sons from a previous marriage. They got into an argument and Briles threatened to toss the boy into the water if he didn't stop crying, Amormino said.
Staff members on the 42-foot boat said Briles told the boy he needed to toughen up then threw him into the water five feet below, said Charlie Maas, who oversees the tour company.
Someone on the boat threw the boy a life ring, and he was safely rescued, uninjured, by another boater. The father also jumped in to save him before swimming back to the tour boat.
Briles told KCAL-TV that there was no anger behind his actions.
"There was no hitting, there was no striking of any kind," he said. "I put him over the edge, and then he jumped and I went in right after him."