Demetrius Jones, who turned three yesterday, let himself out of his grandmother’s holiday trailer while his family slept and took his battery-operated truck down to the Peace River in British Columbia, Canada, where he was swept away by the current.
The red miniature Chevrolet Silverado truck flipped over but the boy – who was only wearing a nappy and T-shirt – floated on it, along swirling waters.
When his family woke up and realised he was missing police were called to help search for him, helped by friends, relatives and neighbours.
The boy’s grandmother, Anita Newdorf, said everyone expected 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”,’ she said.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police joined the hunt. But it was five men in a boat who found Demetrius, nearly three hours after he went missing.
Don Loewen, a nearby town resident who was one of the men on the rescue boat, said: ‘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.
‘We spotted something that looked like some rocks or an eagle. The “rocks” were the black tyres of the overturned toy sticking out of the water. And what we thought was an eagle was the little boy’s blond head.’
The men manoeuvred their boat towards where Demetrius was kneeling in the upside-down, half-submerged truck.
Police said the infant seemed oblivious to the danger he had faced.
He seemed pretty excited to be dealing with the police,’ said Constable Jackelynn Passarell said. ‘I don’t think he realised the gravity of what had just occurred.’
‘He wasn’t crying or whimpering or anything,’ Mr Loewen added.
Demetrius was treated at a hospital for hypothermia and released.
Today, the child was still unfazed by his near-death experience and asked when he could go back on his ‘boat’.
The boy was staying at his grandmother’s holiday trailer in Peace Island Park in Taylor, British Columbia, while his parents were in a nearby tent.
Ms Neudorf said she didn’t hear a sound when the boy left the trailer by himself.
‘It was a heck of an adventure for him but he’s pretty much his old self,’ Ms Neudorf said.
‘His trucks mean the world to him and I think that’s what saved him — he wasn’t letting go of the truck for love or for money.’
The truck was retrieved from the river ‘and still works like a charm’.