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A fisherman has been hailed a hero after rescuing an 18-month-old boy he found floating in the water.

At first he thought it was a doll.

Gus Hutt was checking his lines off Matata Beach, northeast of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, on October 26 when he noticed the boy in a rip about 7.15am, Stuff.co.nz reports.

Mr Hutt said he initially thought the little boy was a doll.

“I reached out and grabbed him by the arm; even then I still thought it was just a doll,” Mr Hutt said.

“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 is a baby and it’s alive’.”

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.

He told his wife Sue about the baby he had saved and she located his parents, who were staying in a nearby holiday camp.

The boy’s mum Jessica Whyte said the camp manager woke her up to news her son Malachi Reeve had been found floating at sea.

“I don’t think my heart [beat] from hearing that to seeing him. I don’t think my heart worked,” Ms Whyte said.

Luckily, the boy was okay. It turns out he had unzipped his parents’ tent while they were sleeping and escaped.

Mr Hutt said he later followed the little boy’s tracks in the sand down to the water and estimates he wasn’t in the water for very long.

Local fire and emergency authorities advised parents camping with toddlers to make sure that zippers are out of reach.

One very lucky little boy!

Share your comments below

  • Wow, that’s amazing! I couldn’t imagine the parents how you’d feel days, or even months after that! They would just be soooo thankful that fisherman was there!
    We go camping sometimes so I’ll have to be extra careful of how we have the tent zipped up etc. although, we never camp by the beach, usually in the bush somewhere.

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  • wow that was lucky, he will never be forgotten

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  • wow! So lucky, God was looking out for him!

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  • The fisherman could so easily not thought about picking up what he thought was a kid’s doll. Seems we need to find a way of locking the zip for safety.


    • Yep! A visit to a camping store for safety gadgets is a good idea!

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  • Great work, hero!

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  • Oh wow, how lucky was he! So glad that someone find him and in time

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  • What a fright that must have been. Lucky little boy that there was someone on the water that morning!

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  • Wow what an incredible rescue!

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  • The little boy is so lucky to have been found,wonderful news.

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  • Perfect timing – glad this man was there to save this little boy.

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  • Thank God this story has a good ending !!
    This is so scary and exactly the reason why I can’t go camping as our youngest is such an escapist, she’ll even will have to go to a high fenced locked school.

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  • wow how scary! I can imagine my children doing this. Is there a way to move the zip out of a child’s reach?

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  • So lucky and so scary they can escape and be in the water so quickly.

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  • How did he get there in the first place??

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  • Lucky Gus decided to check his lines when he did otherwise this could have turned into a senseless tragedy.

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