Man rescues girl from fox attack in New Jersey

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 9:33 AM EDT
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ESSEX COUNTY, NJ (WCBS/CNN) - Neighbors are praising the actions of a 20-year-old young man who rushed to the aid of an 8-year-old girl. He heard her screaming because she was being attacked by a fox.

“I didn’t know it was real at first, but I ran in case. But then I noticed that it was real because it kept on following me, and then I fell and that’s when it started attacking me,” said Dylan Dratch, the girl who was attacked.

Dylan’s friends call her strong, brave and tough after she was attacked by a fox Wednesday night, but even more strong and brave, said Dylan, is her own personal hero: Matt Nichter.

“I kind of just instinctively went into, I guess, action and did what I had to do,” Nichter said. “I wasn’t really scared. I mean, I was a lot bigger than the fox.”

He was playing basketball with some neighborhood boys just before 5 p.m. when he heard Dylan screaming. She had been walking between two backyards with friends when the fox attacked her, biting her lower legs and feet.

She kicked the animal, but it wouldn’t leave until Nichter ran over, basketball still in hand.

“(I) kind of used it as a bit of a distraction, threw it at fox and then I made myself, I guess, really big and kind of chased after it,” he said.

Once the fox ran off, Nichter turned his attention to the little girl, comforting her and keeping her calm. That’s something his dad is perhaps most proud of.

Dylan’s mom is proud, very thankful and won’t even imagine what could have happened if NIchter wasn’t there.

“He saved her. He was able to comfort her and just knew what to do. As a dad, what could be better.” said Larry Nichter, Matt Nichter’s father

“He’s the best, he’s a lifesaver, honestly. He saved her. Very grateful,” said Stacey Dratch, Dylan’s mother.

Officials say foxes are common in the area, and their numbers are growing. They point out it’s rare for one to attack a person.

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