Fisherman pulls toddler from the sea after he crawled out of parents tent and waded into the water
Gus Hutt rescued the 18-month-old child after he found him floating at a steady pace with a rip in the water off Matata Beach in New Zealand
A New Zealand fisherman who saved the life of a drowning toddler after initially having mistaken it for a doll has been praised for the quick-thinking that allowed him to save the child in the nick of time. Gus Hutt is now a local hero, and he says there was a stroke of luck that allowed him to be at the right place at the right time.
Hutt had been staying at Murphy's Holiday Camp that fateful day when the incident unfolded. He was casting a line off Matata Beach in the North Island at a spot he was not accustomed to — he usually fished in a different part of the beach — when he eyed what he thought was a porcelain doll in the water.
According to local outlet Whakatane Beacon, the 'doll' piqued the fisherman's curiosity, and he began dragging the body from the sea where it was being swept along, only to realize that it was, in fact, an 18-month-old child.
Speaking about the incident, he recalled, "His face looked like porcelain with his short hair wetted down, but then he let out a little squeak and I thought, 'Oh God, this is a baby and it's alive.'" He added, "He was floating at a steady pace with a rip in the water. If I hadn't been there, or if I had just been a minute later, I wouldn't have seen him. He was bloody lucky, but he just wasn't meant to go; it wasn't his time."
As soon as Hutt rescued the baby, his wife Sue ran to the parents' tent — she was told they were the only ones at the Murphy's Holiday Camp with a baby — to inform them that their toddler had been found drowning in the sea. Emergency services in the form of Matata Volunteer Fire Brigade treated the boy for 15 minutes before he was transported to Whakatāne Hospital via ambulance.
The Beacon speculated that the toddler had possibly pulled the zip up on the parents' tent while they were sleeping and then crawled underneath the flap before making his way down to the beach. That theory seemed to be backed up by Hutt, who said he saw the boy's little footprints in the sand where he had walked in.
The toddler's parents made it a point to thank Hutt for saving the life of their boy, and it appears as though the 18-month-old did not suffer any serious injury. Hutt said that, seeing the child after the incident, you wouldn't have thought that the child had almost died, "He was wriggling trying to get down to have a look at everything, he was just a lovely, cheeky little fella."
A local police spokesman said that the authorities were not investigating the incident any further.