A toddler was pulled from the sea by a fisherman after he went wandering from his parents’ tent during a camping trip.
Gus Hutt was early morning fishing on Matata Beach on New Zealand’s North Island when he spotted 18-month-old Malachi Whyte floating near his line.
Mr Hutt told the New Zealand Herald: “As he floated past I thought he was just a doll. Even as I reached out and grabbed him by the arm, I still thought it was a doll.”
He said the child looked like porcelain and his short wet hair was stuck to his face.
Mr Hutt continued: “He let out a little squeak and I thought, ‘Oh God this is a baby and it’s alive’.”
He said if he had checked his line a minute later he would not have seen him.
“He was bloody lucky, but he just wasn’t meant to go; it wasn’t his time.”
Malachi was even luckier because Mr Hutt’s choice of fishing location was 100m from his usual spot but right where the child drifted past.
Mr Hutt’s wife alerted staff at the camp where he was staying and they set out to find his parents.
Malachi’s mother, Jessica Whyte, said of the camp manager:
“She was like ‘do you guys have a young child?’ Then she said he’s been found in the water.
“It was horrible in between hearing that and seeing him. I don’t think my heart [beat] from hearing that to seeing him. I don’t think my heart worked.
“It was scary but he was breathing, he was alive.
“Oh God, it was amazing seeing him. I gave him a big hug.”
Emergency services were called to the scene and the boy was taken to hospital but allowed home later that day.
Rebecca Salter, owner of Murphy’s Holiday Camp, said the child had been so excited to be on the beach that he undid the tent zip and wandered into the ocean while his parents were asleep.
The toddler was all smiles when the parents later stopped by to thank him for saving their son’s life, Mr Hutt said.
“He was wriggling trying to get down to have a look at everything, he was just a lovely, cheeky little fella.”