A New Zealand fisherman is being praised for his quick thinking after he pulled a drowning toddler from the sea, rescuing the child who had wandered out of his parents' tent.
Gus Hutt told the Whakatane Beacon that while checking his lines off Matata Beach on North Island last week when he spotted what looked like a porcelain doll in the water.
Surprised by the sight, Hutt pulled the body from the sea where he was surprised to discover that the 'doll' was actually a drowning 18-month-old boy.
“I reached out and grabbed him by the arm; even then I still thought it was just a doll,” Hutt told the paper. “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.’”
Hutt said he hadn't been there at that exact time, he wouldn't have seen the child.
"He was bloody lucky, but he just wasn’t meant to go. It wasn’t his time.”
The child had wandered away from a nearby campsite earlier that morning and isn't believed to have been in the water for long. The toddler's parents were woken by Hutt's wife who asked them if they had a baby.
The co-owner of the campsite where the boy's parents were staying, Rebecca Salter, told the BBC that the incident was a "freakish miracle."
"It got here as a shock to everybody. It was a really, very fortunate outcome … it might have been a really tragic accident," said Salter.
The child was treated by emergency services and taken to Whakatane Hospital.
Hutt said the child appeared to recover fairly quickly, even if everyone else felt shaken up by the nearly-fatal accident.
"He was wriggling trying to get down to have a look at everything, he was just a lovely, cheeky little fella."