It was on August 21st, 1960 (although some accounts put in July) that a 24-year-old Jersey City accountant encountered a shark off the shore in Sea Girt. John Brodeur was visiting his 22-year-old girlfriend who worked at a local hotel. They were in the water in an area reserved for hotel employees and Brodeur told fifty years later that he was riding waves when he saw something long and black heading toward him.

There had been storms in the area and he thought initially that it was maybe a telephone pole that had washed into the surf. It was not. As the shark attacked, Brodeur slapped on the head until it eventually let go and swam away. A lifeguard on duty pulled Brodeur out of the water and dragged him to the beach; it was reported that the lifeguard, having no experience with shark bites, panicked, not knowing what to do. A marine veteran, Norman Porter, was on the beach and rushed to help Brodeur. Porter took off his belt and tied it around Brodeur’s right thigh to form a tourniquet to stanch the bleeding. Ten minutes later an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital.

According to, his injuries included elliptical jagged deep laceration through the postero-lateral calf just at the level of the head of the fibula down to approximately two inches above the extensor malleolus. Multiple gashes over the anterior and medial aspects of the right leg. Laceration and trauma involved all the muscles of the calf. Bones were also damaged.

Surgery to restore circulation to the leg was unsuccessful and ten days later, the leg was amputated. The shark that attacked Brodeur is believed to have been a 12-17 foot long tiger shark; it is also believed that it was the first shark attack on a human at the Jersey Shore since the 1916 “Summer of the Shark.” Brodeur told that even with a prosthetic leg, he continued to go to the beach his entire life. The Readington resident passed away in 2011.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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