'I didn't know it was real at first': Neighbor saves young girl from fox attack

The girl's parents say they're thankful their neighbor was at the right place at the right time.


After a recent fox attack, 8-year-old Dylan Dratch's friends called her strong and brave.


But Dratch gives all the credit to a 20-year-old neighbor who saved her from further injuries.

Matt Nichter said he was playing basketball in his Essex County neighborhood when he heard Dratch screaming.

"I kind of just instinctively went into, I guess, action and did what I had to do," he told News 12 New Jersey. "I wasn't really scared. I mean, I was a lot bigger than the fox."

Dratch said she was walking between two backyards in the area when the attack happened. Even after kicking the animal, Dratch said it kept coming at her legs and feet.

"I didn't know it was real at first, but I ran in case," Dratch told the news outlet. "But then I noticed that it was real because it kept on following me. And I fell and that's when it started attacking me."

Nichter said he was able to use a basketball and his size to scare the animal away and was then able to keep Dratch calm.

Dratch's parents say they're thankful Nichter was at the right place at the right time.

"He saved her. He was able to comfort her and just knew what to do. As a dad, what could be better," Dratch's father, Larry, said.

New Jersey officials told the news outlet that the fox population in that area is growing, but it's rare for the animals to attack people.