A Canadian toddler who drove his battery-powered toy truck into a river survived by clinging to it as he was swept almost eight miles downstream.
Demetrius Jones, who turned 3 on Wednesday, was rescued from swirling 10-ft deep water, insisting that he wanted to get back on his “boat.”
“He had told his parents that he had made his truck into a boat and rode down the river,” said Anita Neudorf, his grandmother.
The baby driver had been camping with his family at Peace Island Park near his home in Fort St. John, British Columbia. He was staying in Neudorf’s caravan while his parents slept in a tent.
He slipped out early in the morning to go for a ride on his red miniature Chevrolet Silverado. When the rest of the family awoke, they found no sign of him and sounded the alarm. Other campers said they had heard the boy driving his toy. He was wearing just a diaper and a T-shirt.
Campers and friends started a search, everyone expecting the worst. “We wouldn’t go near the river because I said to my son, ‘If he’s in the river, he’s gone’ and all I could think of was, ‘I’m going to be burying my grandson,'" Neudorf said.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police joined the hunt. But it was five men in a boat who found Demetrius in the Peace River, nearly three hours after he had disappeared. “We just kept going down the river watching all the log jams and keeping our eyes out for any sign of the car or the boy,” said Don Loewen, one of the rescuers. “We spotted something that looked like some rocks or an eagle.” The “rocks” were the black tires of the overturned toy sticking out of the water. “And what we thought was an eagle or something was the little boy’s blond head.”
Demetrius was taken to hospital and treated for the first stages of hypothermia, and released soon after. Apart from some sore muscles, he was unshaken by his experience.