An 11-YEAR-OLD boy was savagely mauled to death by a shark while playing in a creek with friends.
Little Lester Stillwell would be the fifth and final victim of a 12-day bloodbath as beach-goers escaped a heatwave and took to the water.
Stillwell was playing in the water with friends when one of the boys saw what he thought was an "old, black, weather-beaten board or a weathered log" come towards them.
It was the Thursday afternoon of July 12, 1916, and the boys were playing near their home in Matawan Creek along the New Jersey coast.
A dorsal fin appeared and before Stillwell could swim to shore, the shark pulled him underwater.
The boys ran into town for help, bringing back with them a group of men including local businessman Watson Stanley Fisher, 24.
Fisher and other men dived into the creek to find the boy and attempted to return him to shore.
But during the rescue, Fisher was also bitten by the shark, losing Stillwell in the process.
The 11-year-old's body was recovered two days later, 150 feet upstream from the Wyckoff dock.
Fisher did not survive the attack either.
His right thigh was severely injured and he bled to death, dying at 5.30pm that evening at Monmouth Memorial Hospital in Long Branch.
Just 30 minutes after Stillwell had been attacked, another young boy fell victim to the sea pedator just half a mile away.
Joseph Dunn, 14, of New York City, was bitten on his left leg while swimming nearby.
Dunn's brother frantically tried to rescue him with a friend in a vicious tug-of-war battle with the shark.
The 14-year-old was taken to Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick where he spent three months recovering from the wounds.
He was released on September 15, 1916.
The teenagers were the final victims of the 12-day slaughter.
THE BEGINNING OF THE TERROR
The first major attack occurred twelve days earlier, on Saturday July 1 at Beach Haven, a resort town on Long Beach Island off the southern coast of New Jersey.
Charles Epting Vansant, 25, of Philadelphia was on vacation with his family.
The 25-year-old decided to take a quick swim before dinner but was heard shouting shortly after entering the water.
A shark had taken hold of Vansant's legs.
Lifeguard Alexander Ott and bystander Sheridan Taylor pulled Vansant to shore, claiming the shark followed them as they pulled the bleeding man from the water.
The shark had ripped Vansant's left thigh apart, stripping it of its flesh.
He later bled to death on the manager's desk of the Engleside Hotel just before 7pm that evening.
SHARK SIGHTINGS IGNORED
Sightings of large sharks swarming off the coast were reported by sea captains entering nearvy ports but were dismissed.
Beaches along the Jersey Shore remained open.
Five days after Vansant was struck and just 45 miles north, another attack took another life.
Charles Bruder, 27, a Swiss bell captain at the Essex & Sussex Hotel was swimming just 130 yards from shore in Spring Lake, New Jersey.
A shark bit him in the abdomen and severed his legs, turning the water red with blood.
After hearing screams, a woman notified two lifeguards that a canoe with a red hull had capsized and was floating just at the water's surface.
Lifeguards Chris Anderson and George White rowed out to Bruder in a lifeboat and soon realised he had been bitten by a shark.
They pulled him from the water, but he bled to death on the way to shore.
He died on Thursday, July 6.
The shark to blame for the spate of attacks has never been identified.
Some believe the beast was caught by fishermen days later when human bones where found in the shark's gut when sliced open.
How rare are shark attacks and how dangerous is the great white?
Every year, around 70 shark attacks are reported worldwide – and only a fraction of these are fatal.
Given that there are more than 480 different species, this is a relatively small number.
Only three sharks are considered to carry out unprovoked attacks on humans: the great white, tiger shark and bull shark.
The Florida Museum of Natural History created a list of the shark species that have attacked humans the most, dating back to 1580.
According to the list, there have been 80 fatal incidents involving great whites.
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