Had Gus Hutt been a minute later or gone to his usual fishing spot, he would not have been in the right place at the right time to rescue a toddler who wandered away from his parents' tent and ended up in the ocean.
Hutt is a regular at Murphy's Holiday Camp on Matata Beach in New Zealand. Early in the morning on Oct. 26, he was about 50 feet from shore when he saw what he thought was a doll in the water. He reached out and grabbed its arm, "but then he let out a little squeak and I thought, 'Oh God, this is a baby and it's alive,'" Hutt told The Whakatane Beacon.
He pulled 18-month-old Malachi Reeve from the water, and raced back to shore. Tracking footsteps Malachi left in the sand, Hutt found his parents asleep in their tent. The camp's co-owner, Rebecca Salter, told The Associated Press it was "miraculous and fateful" that the sea was calm and Hutt chose to fish in a different spot that day. Malachi recovered quickly, Hutt told The Whakatane Beacon, and was "just a lovely, cheeky little fella." Catherine Garcia