News National Drowning boy resembling ‘porcelain doll’ saved from New Zealand beach
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Drowning boy resembling ‘porcelain doll’ saved from New Zealand beach

Mr Hutt was fishing on Matata Beach and only saw the boy by chance, he said. Photo: NZ Department of Conservation/Wendy Lever
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A toddler in New Zealand has been rescued after being spotted by a fisherman floating in a remote ocean.

Gus Hutt thought he saw a porcelain doll floating past while he was fishing at the beach side of Matata on North Island.

If not for “a little squeak” that was let out by the drowning child, Mr Hutt would have overlooked what appeared to be a lifeless object, he told the NZ Herald on Monday.

“I thought he was a doll … 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’.”

The 18-month old boy was pulled to safety from the ocean on the morning of October 26 shortly after wandering away from his parents’ tent at Murphy’s Holiday Camp.

Normally, Mr Hutt travels directly from the camp to Matata Beach but on this day, he chose to take a slight left turn, towards Tauranga, near where the boy had been 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.

He was bloody lucky, but he just wasn’t meant to go; it wasn’t his time.”

Mr Hutt’s wife who was with him at the time immediately rushed to back to the camp, alerting the only parents there about the incident.

“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 toddler was treated for about 15 minutes by emergency services before being taken to Whakatāne Hospital.

Following the incident, Mr Hutt went back to the campsite where the family were staying and followed the “little footprints in the sand” where the boy had walked in.

“It was about 15 metres away from where I had my rod, so he wasn’t in the water long. I must’ve just missed seeing him go in.”

Police attended the scene but later confirmed they were taking no further action in relation to the case.

“The child was quickly removed from the water by the informant at the scene and began breathing again, and was taken to hospital for a check-up in a moderate condition.”

-with agencies.