December 3, 2023

A Florida teen, who survived an attack by a nine-foot shark and would have to have part of her leg amputated, described the moments of the terrifying attack.

Addison Bethea, 17, was searching for a scallop near Keaton Beach in Taylor County, North Florida when it was bitten by a shark in five-foot-deep water on June 30, according to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office.

“I didn’t really know what to do exactly, but I knew with sharks you’re supposed to hit them in the nose to get them out of you, and I couldn’t get his nose in his nose,” CNN quotes her as saying.

“So I just started shoving her in my face and then I stabbed her in the eyes and tried to grab her with my fingers, and then she bit my hand.”

Then the girl screamed for help and her brother, who works as a firefighter, heard her screams.

“I heard her make a sound, almost as if something frightened her,” said her brother, Rhett Willingham. “I sat and looked and I didn’t see her. Then I got up out of the water and I saw the shark and the blood and all that, then I swam in there and I got [the shark] turning off.”

He fought the shark and dragged his sister onto another boat.

He said he gave her emergency medical help by putting a tourniquet on her leg to stop the bleeding and shoving her to the ground as fast as he could.

The teen is now receiving treatment at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

The hospital, in an update posted to Facebook on Monday, said Addison will have to undergo an amputation.

“Addison’s leg injuries are so extensive that it would require amputation just above the right knee, which will happen during surgery on Tuesday,” she added.

“Surgeons will amputate the leg just above the knee and take muscle tissue and skin from the lower leg to wrap around Addison’s bone, reconstructing the top of the leg. This will give Addison the ability to use a prosthesis for her lower leg.”

The publication, citing Addison’s mother, Michelle Murphy, said the teen “felt a little emotional” when she was told about the amputation.

But she accepted, knowing that this was her best way forward. The publication quotes Murphy as saying, “She’s embracing that and trying to maintain a positive outlook.

In a previous Facebook post, Addison’s father Shane wrote: “She was stable and there were several doctors trying to take care of her leg.”

They had to remove a vein from her left leg to create an artery in the right to try to restore blood flow to her foot and down her leg. The nerve in the back of the thigh is badly damaged. There is an unrealistic amount of damage in her thigh area. Doctors are not sure at this point about the condition of the leg and want to take it day in and day out to see what to do.”

Subsequently, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office urged swimmers and women to “exercise caution, vigilance, and practice shark safety.”

Sharks are found on both the eastern and western coasts of the United States, with Florida having recorded the largest number of unprovoked shark attacks since 1837, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum.

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