Shocking video shows mother cheering as her 4-year-old boy is thrown from a bridge
'When he landed, I thought he broke his neck'
On hot summer days in Montesano, Wash., locals like Kaylub Fawley know that the Wynoochee River is one of the best places to cool off.
Fawley has been going to the popular spot for years with friends to swim, to relax and -- when he's feeling adventurous -- to make the daring 27-foot plunge from the Devonshire railroad bridge into the water below.
"We've been jumping for so long, we know how to do it without getting hurt," the 18-year-old told The Washington Post. "But we also know the consequences. You have to be careful."
Fawley was shocked, then, to look up last week and see a child being tossed off the bridge into the river.
The teen had his smartphone out and managed to record the child's terrifying plunge.
"I looked up and was like, 'Whoa, there's a kid up there' -- I immediately started recording," Fawley told The Post. "This guy just threw the kid right off the bridge, and he smacked down right on his neck."
"As soon as that kid hit the water, he went straight down and straight back up," Fawley added, noting that the child disappeared underwater before his life jacket quickly pulled him back to the surface. "He was just screaming the whole time."
Swimmers who witnessed the shocking scene reported it to police.
Then, the following day, Fawley posted the video on Facebook, writing that "this is what happens when some parents just don't care."
The boy's mother can be heard cheering as her child plummets toward the water -- which, Fawley said, ranges from about eight to 12 feet deep, depending on how much it's rained recently on the Olympic Peninsula.
The sound of the child's body smacking the water is also audible.
"When he landed, I thought he broke his neck," another witness, Brianna Jones, told The Post. "Usually, people that jump off the bridge are my age or older."
Jones, who is 19, said the child nearly hit his head on a steel beam on his way down; he barely missed some of the large underwater boulders that experienced jumpers are keen to avoid.
But what happened next was even more shocking to the dozens of swimmers gathered in the water, Jones said: As soon as the screaming child surfaced, she said, his mother "was trying to make it seem like the whole incident was fun."
Jones said she, Fawley and other swimmers began reprimanding the woman -- and the woman began screaming back.
"We all started freaking out and yelling at her, 'You can't do that!" Jones recounted. "She said, 'He's my kid, and it's none of your business.'"
"You just don't throw a kid off a bridge!" Jones added. "It made me so mad. ... People like that shouldn't have children."
Jones and Fawley said police arrived within 15 minutes and were shown the video.
"The police officer watched it several times, and he was pretty upset," Fawley said, noting that the boy was treated in an ambulance and later released. "I kept asking if the little boy was all right, and the cop said he was fine, but he was shaken up pretty bad."
Authorities said the boy is 4 years old.
Steve Shumate, a spokesman for the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office, told The Post that the local prosecutor's office is still deciding whether to charge the mother with child endangerment, a class C felony.
The man seen on camera throwing the child off the bridge is the mother's boyfriend and is also under investigation, Shumate said.
Investigating officers initially believed the woman should face "reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing charges, which are both misdemeanors," the sheriff's spokesman said.
"I'm waiting for the rest of the police reports to come in," he added. "I spoke with the county prosecutor, and they're going to determine whether felony charges are going to be filed."
Fawley told The Post he decided to make the video public because he wants people to understand the consequences of child endangerment.
"I hope that mother gets what's coming to her," he said. "I just want that child to be safe."
Independent News Service