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'Freakish miracle': New Zealand fisherman pulls drowning toddler from ocean

06 November 2018

Gus Hutt, who was vacationing at Murphy's Holiday Camp with his wife, Sue, was fishing near Matata Beach on North Island around 7 a.m. on October 26 when he says he spotted a small figure floating in the water.

He initially thought it was a doll, until he "let out a little squeak".

His face looked just like porcelain with his short hair wetted down, but then he let out a little squeak and I thought, 'Oh God this...

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.

Usually, Hutt heads straight out from the camp to fish from the beach, but on Friday he chose to walk 100 metres to the left, towards Tauranga.

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According to Jessica Whyte, the toddler's mother, who also spoke to the New Zealand Herald, she was awoken around 7:30 a.m. with the news that her son had been floating in the sea and said it was "horrible in between hearing that and seeing him".

"She was like 'do you guys have a young child?' Then she said he's been found in the water", Whyte told

"He was floating at a steady pace. if I had been just a minute later, I wouldn't have seen him", Hutt said.

Mr Hutt added the boy was "bloody lucky" he chose to check his lines, believing the child could have been pulled away in the rip.

The co-owner of Murphy's Holiday Camp, Rebecca Salter, told CNN that Hutt's wife alerted the campsite after finding the child, and brought him back to be wrapped in a towel. "I don't think my heart worked", she said. 'I don't think my heart [beat] from hearing that to seeing him.

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"It was scary but he was breathing, he was alive". I gave him a big hug'.

Emergency services arrived with the Matata Volunteer Fire Brigade and treated the boy for 15 minutes before an ambulance arrived to take him to Whakatāne Hospital.

"It was a very, very lucky result", she said.

When he was returned to his parents he received medical attention.

"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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A police spokesperson confirmed they had attended the scene, but were taking no further action.

'Freakish miracle': New Zealand fisherman pulls drowning toddler from ocean