Wednesday, July 12: Matawan (2:05 pm)
Approx. 2:10 pm: The boys ran past Mr. Fisher’s store, screaming that Lester had been attacked by a shark. Mr. Fisher thought perhaps Lester was drowning as a result of a seizure; he immediately left his store and took Red Burlew (who was passing by) and Arthur Smith with him. At first, the three men searched for Lester in a boat.
It was 30 minutes since Lester went under the water, but they still didn’t believe it was a shark attack. However, at this point, they knew they would not be finding Lester alive as he had been under water for too long, but they wanted to recover his body for his family. All three men changed into swim tights and dove in. Arthur Smith was scraped in the abdomen, which drew blood and left a scar. Mr. Burlew and Mr. Fisher, on the opposite side of the creek, had decided to stop diving.
By this time, a crowd had gathered at the creek’s banks, including Johnny Smith (Mr. Fisher’s assistant). Mr. Fisher decided to make one last dive to try to recover Lester’s body. Some witness claimed they saw Lester’s body briefly above the water’s surface as Mr. Fisher pulled him up from below. In waist-deep water, the shark attacked Mr. Fisher, who had to let go of Lester’s body. The athletic Mr. Fisher attempted to fight off the shark, striking it repeatedly and forcefully. However, the shark took him under the water’s surface twice and tore away a great deal of tissue from his thigh.
Witnesses to the event also included Arthur Van Buskirk (deputy at Monmouth Co. detective’s office in Keyport) and George Smith (Freehold detective), who had arrived in a motorboat just as the shark attacked Stanley. Mr. Van Buskirk hit the shark with an oar to get it to release Mr. Fisher.
Dr. George C. Reynolds was on the scene and attended to Mr. Fisher’s severed femoral artery. The decision was made to transport him via train to Long Branch Monmouth Memorial Hospital for treatment, but they would have to wait two hours at the railroad station for the next train.