A 37-year-old Florida man was arrested for throwing his five-year-old son into the Atlantic Ocean, then walking away as the boy struggled to keep his head above water. On July 15, Daytona Beach resident John Forrest Bloodsworth, 37, was charged with aggravated abuse of a child, disorderly intoxication and swimming too close to the pier. He told the police officer he was teaching his son how to swim and then said his arrest had resulted from “being totally awesome.”
The boy was turned over to his mother and did not show any signs of injury.
Bloodsworth was released from the Volusia County branch jail after posting $1,500 bail the following day. He is set to be arraigned on August 7 and will be represented by a public defender.
The incident occurred at the Daytona Beach Pier, a popular tourist spot originally built in 1925. The pier is 1000 feet long, is located along the Daytona Beach boardwalk and is considered one of Daytona’s most famous landmarks.
Here’s what you need to know about John Bloodsworth and his arrest at the Daytona Beach Pier.
1. Bloodsworth Threw His Son into the Ocean Several Times
Just after 8 p.m. on July 15, beachgoers and people on the pier saw Bloodsworth tossing his small son into water that was about four feet deep, then walk off.
Witness Ajla Babic told police she and her family were on the pier watching Bloodsworth and his son, who were only about 40 feet away. As the boy struggled to swim to shore and his head bobbed up and down in the waves, Bloodsworth was seen leaving and heard screaming, “Go back!”
Bloodsworth then climbed the steps to the pier and illegally jumped off. After hitting the water, witnesses said he’d swim over to his son, throw him back out into the rough surf, and start screaming that the little boy needed to learn how to swim. Bloodsworth did this several times.
2. A Former Georgia State Trooper Stopped Bloodsworth
Former Georgia state trooper Mitch Brown was on vacation with his family and having dinner on the pier when he witnessed the incident. He saw Bloodsworth leave his son unattended in the water for 12 to 15 minutes to jump off the pier several times.
“The little kid was out there by himself. Completely by himself. There was nobody around him, no adults,” Brown told WESH.
As beachgoers rescued Bloodsworth’s son, Brown went to stop Bloodsworth.
“I said, ‘I can’t take this no more.’ So I went down the pier, down to the shore and confronted [Bloodsworth] myself,” Brown said.
The former trooper notified Bloodsworth he was taking him to the police. “I said, ‘you’re coming with me, one way or another,’” he recalled. Brown then took Bloodsworth to an officer who arrested him.
A Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Safety Rescue Officer explained to Bloodsworth that lifeguards hadn’t been on duty for more than two hours, there had been a risk of rip currents and he’d been swimming in a prohibited area because it was too close to the pier.
Brown said beachgoers dried off the child and tried to comfort him. “The kid was already very upset and crying, and he didn’t want to be there,” Brown said.
But Bloodsworth was adamant that he’d done nothing wrong and told authorities he couldn’t think of a better place to teach his son to swim.
3. Bloodsworth Admitted to Having “Four or Five” Beers
The officer who placed Bloodsworth under arrest noted he was clearly intoxicated. Bloodsworth’s speech was described as slurred and his breath smelled like alcohol.
He admitted to having “four or five beers” before heading off to the beach.
When officers searched his belongings they discovered a small smoking pipe and a clear plastic bag with a “green leafy substance,” the police report stated.
The arresting officer noted that Bloodsworth repeatedly asked if he was going to jail but showed no concern for his son.
4. This Isn’t Bloodsworth’s First Run-in with the Law
Bloodsworth is no stranger to local law enforcement. In February 2019 he was charged with Battery Causing Bodily Harm. In 2009 he was arrested for marijuana possession and playing loud music and in 2008 he was charged with trespassing.
Inmate records describe Bloodsworth as standing 5’10, weighing 185 pounds and having ruddy skin, brown hair and hazel eyes.
5. Police Also Issued Bloodsworth A “No Trespass” Warning
A “no trespass warning” was also issued after Bloodsworth defiantly told the arresting officer he planned on “coming back to the pier to jump off every day,” even after being told that swimming within 300 feet of the pier and jumping from the pier were prohibited.
He added that the next time he was at the pier he planned on bringing his daughter to jump with him.