A fisherman in New Zealand rescued an 18-month-old toddler from the ocean in a ‘freakish miracle’.
Holiday camper Gus Hutt was out fishing when he spotted a small figure floating in the water.
At first he thought little Malachi Reeve was a doll but when the tot let out a squeak he realised it was a baby.
The boy had escaped from his parent’s tent and ended up in the ocean.
Mr Hutt told the NZ Herald: “As he floated past I thought he was just a doll.
“So, I reached out and grabbed him by the arm; even then I still thought it was just a doll.
“His face looked just like porcelain with his short hair wetted down, but then and he let out a little squeak and I thought ‘oh God this is a baby and it’s alive’.”
Mum Jessica Whyte said it felt like a ‘nightmare’ when she discovered her young son was missing and that her heart had stopped beating.
She told Stuff that she was woken by the camp manager at Matata Beach to the news her son had been found floating in the sea.
Whyte said the news dealt like a sick joke when she was told at 7.30am on October 26 and 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,” she said.
It was pure luck that Mr Hutt had been fishing there to save the boy.
Usually he walks straight out to camp to fish from the beach, but on the day in question he decided to walk 100 metres to the left.
After returning to check his lines at 7.15am, he saw the seemingly lifeless baby floating in the water.
“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,” said Hutt.
“He was bloody lucky, but he just wasn’t meant to go; it wasn’t his time.”
Rebecca Salter, the co-owner of Murphy’s Holiday Camp told the BBC: “Apparently the baby had been very excited to be on the beach. It was the couple’s first night staying here. It’s the first time they’ve been here.
“Hutt, who is a fisherman and one of our regulars, spotted the baby. [They brought the baby to us], we wrapped him up in towels and Sue went to inform the baby’s parents.”
The baby had escaped from his parents’ tent by undoing the zipper, and then made his way into the ocean.
“It came as a shock to everyone. It was a very, very lucky result… it could have been a very tragic incident,” said Mrs Salter. “It’s a freakish miracle.”