Dad rescues baby from River

Published: January 23, 2007 | 5356th good news item since 2003

A Hamilton father was still emotional yesterday after diving into the Waikato River to save his baby daughter on Wednesday.

Jared Bruning, 26, said he thought five-month-old Holli was dead as he dived into the water after her pram rolled off a river path and plunged down a cliff into the water.

Mr Bruning, a Fonterra worker, said Holli was under water for up to 20 seconds until he was able to free her.

He had been walking on the west side of the river with his wife Alicia and two-year-old Lily at 3.30pm on Wednesday when the incident happened.

The family was taking their usual route along Awatere Ave and Ann St towards the St Andrews Golf Course.

Both children were strapped into the buggy but Lily wanted to walk, so Mr Bruning put her on his shoulders, where she kicked off his hat and sunglasses. He and his wife reached for them at the same time and when Mrs Bruning let go of the pram, it shot off.

They watched it cartwheel several times, throwing their possessions out, before plunging down a 10m cliff into the river.

“It took all of about five seconds and it was in the water,” Mr Bruning said. “I just ran down the hill and just jumped off the edge.”

He swam to the pram, which was upside down.

While they were under water, he managed to unbuckle the straps and get Holli above the water.

“As soon as I got her into the air she started screaming. It was magic,” he said.

“I just held her on my tummy and I started swimming towards the shore.”

From on the other side of the river, Megan Muldowney heard the screams and assumed it was teenagers. Then she saw Mr Bruning in the water. She ran to a house and yelled out to call police.

The current took the pair about 100m downstream.

Mr Bruning said he managed to find a branch sticking out and grabbed it.

“Luckily there was a little rock shelf that was only a foot deep in water.”

Mrs Bruning, who could not see the drama, saw a water bottle floating in the river and thought they were dead.

Mr Bruning yelled that they were okay and sat in the water for 20 minutes “to compose myself”.

Two men reached him with a rope and took Holli.

Police and paramedics arrived on a quad bike borrowed from St Andrews Golf Club and took Holli and Mrs Bruning off the river path.

The family was taken to Waikato Hospital and discharged several hours later. Mr Bruning and Holli had swallowed water but were otherwise fine.

Mr Bruning said he was “pretty emotional”, unable to sleep, and would take a few days off work.

Holli was oblivious, he said.

The incident was similar to the death of Australian triathlete Kerry Lucas’ baby last month.

Her baby died after his pram rolled into Adelaide’s Torrens River when she answered her mobile phone.

Published in Fatherhood, Rescues
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