'I thought it was a doll' - Fisherman rescues 18-month-old baby from the sea
A FISHERMAN in New Zealand pulled an 18-month-old baby from the sea alive after the boy went missing from his campsite where he was staying with his parents.
Gus Hutt, who was fishing at a beach near a holiday park in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island, thought he was pulling a doll from the ocean before realising he had rescued a baby when the boy "let out a little squeak".
He said he was checking his lines at about 7.15am late last month when he spotted the baby float past.
"His face looked like porcelain with his short hair wetted down," Mr Hutt told the 'Whakatāne Beacon'.
"But then he let out a little squeak and I thought, 'oh God, this is a baby and it's alive'. 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."
Mr Hutt said his wife Sue ran to the holiday park manager, who directed her to the only visitors who had a baby.
"She ran to the tent and just shook it and asked, 'where's your baby - we just pulled one from the sea', and the mother just screamed," Mr Hutt said.
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.
Malachi's mother, Jessica Whyte, said the baby usually woke at 8am but might have risen early due to the sound of the waves. She said he had tried to run into the sea on the previous day and been stopped by his parents.
Mr Hutt said he later followed the boy's "little footprints" to the beach and saw where he had entered the water.
Emergency services treated the boy.