A man accused of throwing a 4-year-old boy 27 feet into the Wynoochee River in Washington state, and the mother who cheered on while it happened, are now facing reckless endangerment charges, according to news reports.
Jeremiah Goodwin and Taylor Richardson were charged Wednesday, more than three weeks after a bystander posted a video of the child being thrown from the Devonshire railroad bridge in Montesano, Washington. Richardson, the boy’s mother, can be heard cheering as her son plummets toward the water.
Goodwin is facing an additional charge of criminal trespassing in connection with the incident, which happened in late August.
“Everyone was shocked by that,” Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott told KOMO News. “It’s reckless for an adult to do. It certainly warranted a criminal charge.”
Goodwin and Richardson said they didn’t mean any harm to the child, who was wearing a life jacket and was not injured, and that the boy wanted to be tossed into the river, the TV station reported.
Goodwin said “he was just trying to help the 4-year-old jump off of the bridge safely,” according to KXRO. He said he had just met Richardson at that time.
The incident was captured on video by Kaylub Fawley, who posted it to his Facebook page. The video has since been viewed more than 900,000 times.
“This is what happens when some parents just don’t care,” Fawley wrote on Facebook.
Fawley has been going to the Wynoochee River with friends for years to swim, to relax and – when he’s feeling adventurous – to make the daring 27-foot plunge from the 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 and see a child being tossed off the bridge into the river.
“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.”
Fawley said the water ranges from about 8- to 12-feet deep, depending on how much it has rained recently on the Olympic Peninsula.
Swimmers who witnessed the scene reported it to police.
The sound of the child’s body smacking the water is also audible in the video.
“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 careful 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 that she, Fawley and other swimmers began reprimanding the woman – and the woman screamed 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.”
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.”
Richardson and Goodwin appeared for the first time in Grays Harbor county court on Wednesday. They have since been released, and each is scheduled for another court hearing next month, KOMO News reported.
Richardson’s two other children were placed in foster care, the TV station reported. A Child Protective Services case is pending.
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