Shark attack!!! 50 years later, Readington man tells of having his leg mauled
Sand tiger shark attacked a Readington man 50 years ago
READINGTON TWP. -- In July 1960, a sand tiger shark attacked then 24-year-old John Brodeur and ripped through his right thigh as he stood in the ocean at the Sea Girt beach.
50 years later, the Readington Township resident is grateful he lived through it to experience 40 years of marriage with his wife Celine, and life with his four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Share “I’m very happy with my life. It was just an incident along the way,” said Brodeur, a retired accountant, who has been featured in books about sharks and was once a guest on the “O’Reilly Factor.”
Brodeur was told the shark had been a 12- to 17-foot sand tiger shark, judging from the teeth marks in his leg, At the time of the attack, he was standing farther out than other bathers, his feet firmly planted in the sand.
“I ride waves and I was getting ready to ride a wave in,” Brodeur said. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“I saw this big black thing coming toward me — I thought it was a telephone pole,” he said. The shark was long and black, and there had been a bad storm earlier that week.
When the shark bit him, Brodeur slapped the top of the shark’s head with his hand, and “eventually it let go,” he said.
“The lifeguard pulled me out of the water and then dropped me in the sand,” Brodeur continued. “My right thigh was all torn open.”
Celine Brodeur, who was not present at the time but knows the story well, said the young lifeguard panicked. “It’s not every day you get a shark attack,” she said.
A Marine veteran named Norman Porter, from the Bronx, took his belt off and used it to apply a tourniquet to Brodeur’s leg to slow the bleeding until he could be taken to the hospital. Because his nerves were severed and he was in shock, Brodeur does not recall feeling much pain.
He still thinks highly of Porter. “He saved my life. I was a lucky man.”
Celine noted that Porter has passed away, “but he’s been my husband’s hero.”
Brodeur’s leg had to be amputated, and he spent three months recovering in the hospital. Now with a prosthetic leg, he can’t run, but he can walk, and he enjoys playing tennis.
“I still go to the beach,” he said. In fact, the Brodeurs and their children will be taking a family vacation in Cape May this summer.
“He never, ever let one thing stand in his way,” his wife said. “It was never a handicap to him.”
In spite of the attack, John said he has always loved swimming in the ocean. But he warns other swimmers to be careful, especially because it is not always true that sharks will only attack someone who is already bleeding.
“Make sure that there are lifeguards, and other people in the water,” Brodeur warned.
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