Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Fisherman saves toddler floating face-down in the ocean

Hero fisherman Gus Hutt with his wife Sue where he saved the baby's life at Matata Beach Hero fisherman Gus Hutt with his wife Sue where he saved the baby's life at Matata Beach
Steven Clarke | 06 November, 2018, 15:29

Gus Hutt was preparing for an early morning fish when he saw what appeared to be a doll bobbing past him in a rip current at Matata Beach in the North Island's Bay of Plenty. Although not explicitly stated, the child was most likely floating unconsciously in the water for at least part of the time.

He told the Whakatane Beacon newspaper that the face looked like porcelain and he thought it was a doll until he heard a squeak and realized with a shock that the toddler was still alive.

The parents said the baby, named Malachi, had pulled up the zipper of their tent while they were sleeping and crawled under the flap before heading to the beach.

Hutt says the timing of the incredible rescue was even more improbable because his usual fishing spot is further down the beach, where he would not have seen Malachi in the water.

Mr Hutt found the youngster floating in the water after returning to check his lines at 7.15am.

Mr Hutt told the New Zealand Herald: "He was floating at a steady pace with a rip in the water".

"I don't think my heart [beat] from hearing that to seeing him".

"He just wasn't meant to go; it wasn't his time".

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The toddler had unzipped his family's tent at Murphy's Holiday Camp and walked to the beach without waking his sleeping parents on October 26.

Hutt's wife Sue raced to let camp to let staff know that a child had been pulled from the water.

Jessica Whyte, the toddler's mother, woke at 7.30am to find the camp manager informing her that her son had been found at sea.

"My husband came around the corner with the baby in his arms", she said.

Emergency services treated the boy. "I must've just missed seeing him go in". "Put them on a padlock", she said.

Murphy's Holiday Camp co-owner Rebecca Salter told the BBC the incident unfolded on the first day of the family's stay.

Although Malachi's parents later thanked Hutt and expressed hopes of meeting again in the future, Hutt notes that there was an added stroke of good fortune that helped him save the boy's life, namely in his choice of fishing location.

"He was wriggling trying to get down to have a look at everything, he was just a lovely, cheeky little fella".

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