Until it “squeaked.”
Hutt was returning to check his fishing lines at a New Zealand beach, when he spotted something in the water early in the morning on Oct. 26, reported the Whakaton Beacon.
That was the moment that saved Malachi Reeve’s life.
Hutt reached out and grabbed the arm of the lifeless figure.
“His face looked like porcelain with his short hair wetted down,” Hutt said “but then he let out a little squeak and I thought, ‘Oh God, this is a baby and it’s alive.'”
It was only a stroke of luck that Hutt was walking by at that moment; he had deviated from his usual fishing spot that day.
“He was 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,” Hutt said.
Man how lucky…great to be a part of a good news story.
“He just wasn’t meant to go; it wasn’t his time.”
The child’s mother, Jessica Whyte, was still asleep in their tent in a nearby holiday camp where they were taking a family break.
Murphy’s Holiday Camp, Matata, is on the edge of the Pacific Ocean on New Zealand’s North Island about 100 miles from Auckland.
Whyte told Stuff that at first she thought it was a “sick joke,” when the camp manager woke her.
“She was like ‘Do you guys have a young child?’ Then she said he’s been found in the water,” said Whyte. “It was horrible in between hearing that and seeing him. I don’t think my heart [beat] from hearing that to seeing him. I don’t think my heart worked.”
When she saw Malachi at the camp ground reception she said he looked purple, cold, and smaller than usual.
“It was scary but he was breathing, he was alive,” Whyte said. “Oh God, it was amazing seeing him. I gave him a big hug.”
When Jessica Whyte was woken to the news that her 18-month-old son had been found floating in the sea, it felt like her heart stopped beating.
Emergency services attended to him for 15 minutes before he was taken to hospital.
The child has fully recovered, according to reports.
His mother told Stuff that he is the same playful toddler, and appears none the worse for wear. “He’s himself. Maybe he’ll be more aware of water, not run into beaches. But he’s definitely himself.”
She said she knows some other parents will judge her, but she is more concerned about getting out a message from her own harrowing experience: “Zip your tents up. And zip them up nice and high if you’ve got a child that can reach. Put them on a padlock.”
Hutt later traced the infant’s steps into the sea to a spot about 15 meters from where he had been fishing.
Whyte said that Malachi normally sleeps until 8 a.m., but thinks the sound of the waves might have woken him.
He appears to have pulled the zipper on on the tent as his parents slept, crawled under the flap and made his way down to the beach at around 7 a.m.
Rebecca Salter, the co-owner of Murphy’s Holiday Camp, told the BBC, “It came as a shock to everyone. It was a very, very lucky result … it could have been a very tragic incident. It’s a freakish miracle.”