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Sad Fate of Lester Stillwell
Posted by: Roger Stillwell Date: July 16, 1999 at 13:59:17
  of 2366

The following is a story that appeared in the July 13, 1999 Washington Post in a special feature called THE CENTURY IN THE POST. It is a rather sad story about one of our New Jersey ancestors, and I do hope that folks find it interesting, albeit a bit gory in detail.
Tuesday, July 13, 1999; Page C13

Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.

Six decades before a fictional great white shark struck terror into the hearts of moviegoers, a series of real
shark attacks at the New Jersey shore had a similar
effect. While the state's beaches are usually protected by
cold-water currents, which dangerous sharks tend to
avoid, the warm Gulf Stream apparently shifted close to
the Jersey beaches in 1916 -- bringing with it the deadly
shark, or sharks. An excerpt from The Post of July 13,

Matawan, N.J. July 12 -- Lester Stillwell, 12 years old,
was killed by a man-eating shark while bathing in an arm
of Raritan Bay, near here, this afternoon. Stanley Fisher,
24 years old, who went to his aid, was so badly injured
in the struggle with the sea monster that he died while
being taken to a Long Branch hospital. Joseph Dunn, 12
years old, bathing some distance away in the same inlet,
was attacked by a shark, and one of his legs was so
lacerated it probably will have to be amputated.

This is the third time within two weeks that sharks have
claimed the lives of bathers along the New Jersey coast.
Charles E. Van Sant, a youth of Philadelphia, was killed
by a shark off Beach Haven, N.J., on July 2. Charles
Bruder, of Spring Lake, N.J., was attacked and both his
legs taken off by a shark on July 6. He died while men
who went to his rescue were carrying him ashore.

Four large sharks, believed to be of the man-eating
variety, were reported seen off Asbury Park, N.J., on
Monday, and on the same day a shark chased a canoe in
which Everbrook Carter, nephew of Republican
Nominee Charles E. Hughes, was paddling at
Bridgehampton, Long Island.

A dozen or more boys, who also were bathing in the
inlet, heard Stillwell's screams for help. Fisher, who
was standing on the bank, went to the rescue. He had
gone only a few feet when the shark attacked him, tearing
a piece out of one thigh.

In spite of his wound, Fisher caught the boy up in his
arm, and had started for shore, when the shark renewed
the attack. Burdened as he was, Fisher was helpless, and
the shark snapped off his leg. Fisher released his hold on
Stillwell, and himself sank beneath the surface,

Heedless of the danger, another boy sprang into the inlet,
and dragged Fisher out. No trace of young Stillwell was
found, and it is believed he was devoured by the shark.

The Dunn boy, according to persons who were standing
on the bank of the inlet, also was attacked soon after
going into the water. An elder brother and another boy
went to his rescue. They succeeded in driving off the
shark, but not until after the younger Dunn's leg had been
torn almost to shreds from the knee down. He is
expected to recover.

This series is available at

Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company


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