‘I’m grateful for him.’ Neighbor hailed as hero for saving young girl from fox attack

It was a scary situation in an Essex County neighborhood Wednesday afternoon that could have been made much worse if not for the actions of a heroic neighbor.
Eight-year-old Dylan Dracht was walking through a backyard in her Livingston neighborhood while playing with friends when she was attacked by a fox.
“I didn’t know it was real at first, but I ran just in case,” he says. “Then I noticed it was real because it kept following me and I fell and that’s when it attacked me.” 
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Matt Nichter was playing basketball nearby with friends when he heard screams coming from the woods and ran over to help.
“I kind of just instinctively went into action and did what I had to do. I wasn’t really scared. I mean, I was a lot bigger than the fox,” he says.
The fox had bitten Dracht on her lower legs and feet. She kicked it, but it wouldn’t leave her alone until Nichter showed up – basketball still in hand.
“I kind of used it as a bit of a distraction. I threw it at the fox and then made myself, I guess, really big and chased after it,” he says.
The fox ran off and Nichter turned his attention to the girl, comforting her and keeping her calm. His father says that this is what he is most proud of.
“He saved her and was able to comfort her. He knew what to do. As a dad, what could be better?” says Larry Nichter.
Dracht’s mother is also grateful that Nichter was nearby.
“He’s amazing and she’s OK,” she says.
Livingston police say that foxes are common in the area and that their population is growing. Police say that it is unusual for a fox to attack a person.
Animal control officers are looking for the fox, and remind everyone to stay away from any wildlife they may come across.