An 8-year-old girl from New Jersey is recovering from being attacked by a fox while meeting friends, blocks from her home. A young man playing basketball nearby heard her cries for help and threw a ball at the fox to distract him.
Girl Dylan Drach was standing in a creek in the backyard of a friend with a handful of girls a few blocks from her home in Livingston, about 1
Dylan, who celebrated her birthday on July 19, said on Friday that she thought she was dreaming, but the fox quickly began to pinch her legs.
Then she started screaming.
Matthew Nichter, 20, who lives next door to where the attack took place, was playing basketball with his three neighbors in his front yard.
“We heard screams,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. “I was running back there, still holding the basketball I was playing.”
Nichter ran to Dylan, who was attacked by the fox.
“I threw basketball as a form of distraction and drove it away,” he said. “Dylan managed to break away.”
Nichter said he followed the fox – a short distance – until he left the property.
“Then I went back across the stream and picked up Dylan,” he said, adding that he tried to calm her down. “She was scared, she was crying and her legs were really bloody.”
He said he tried to comfort Dylan by telling her that her parents, an ambulance and police were on their way.
Dylan was taken to hospital, where her mother, Stacey, said she was given the first of what is likely to be a series of pictures of rabies, as well as a shot with epinephrine, as she is allergic to dogs.
Dylan received 19 stab wounds to her legs and feet, her mother said.
“He has a lot of bruises on his ankles,” Stacey Durres said in an interview Friday. “The fox left a mark of his mouth on the back of her legs.”
This is the first time a fox has attacked a man in the town in more than 31 years, said Livingston Police Chief Gary Marchett.
“Cops said either Dylan accidentally came in contact with his mucosa or the fox was furious,” said Dratch, 45.
The police chief said on Friday: “The State Department of Fish and Wildlife is actively helping us catch the animal.”
Dratch said she was shocked to learn that Dylan had been attacked by a fox.
“This is not a conversation someone wants to get,” she said.
Despite how scary and worried she was when she reached Dylan, she had to stay calm to comfort her. Dylan is the youngest of three children. She has two brothers who told her they were proud of how brave she was.
Dylan said he considered Nichter a savior. Dratch believes she is a goddess.
Nichter is not considered a hero.
“It’s really sweet and I appreciate that they feel that way,” he said. “I’m just glad I was able to help and I was in the right place at the right time.”
He said he acted instinctively.
“I’m really happy she’s fine,” he added. “It could be a lot worse.”