A shark attacked a 17-year-old girl at a beach in Florida, but she is still living today because she fought back and her brother acted quickly.
Addison Bethea was scalloping near Grassy Island, near Keaton Beach, when a shark bit her. The water was about 5 feet deep.
“The next thing I know, something grabs my leg, and I thought, “That’s not right.” Then I look and it’s a big old shark,” the kid told Good Morning America.
Addison had seen on Animal Planet that you should punch a shark in the nose if it attacks you, but the shark bit her so hard that she couldn’t reach its nose. Still, she fought it and tried to pull it off with her bare hands.
Addison’s brother, Rhett Willingham, jumped into the water to help her once he saw the blood.
“She came back up, and I saw, like, blood and everything, and I saw the shark,” he said.
“So I swam over there, grabbed her, and pushed them all, trying to get them apart. He didn’t stop coming. So I grabbed her, swam backwards, kicked him, and then yelled for help.”
Rhett, who is 22 and works as an EMT and firefighter in Taylor County, beat and kicked the shark nonstop to get his sister out. He grabbed her when she was free and put her on his boat.
When a close boater saw that they were in trouble, he offered to help, and Rhett put Addison on his boat.
He then used a boat rope to make a 4-foot bandage and wrapped it around her right upper leg to stop the blood. Before using the boat to get back to land, Rhett called for an ambulance.
Addison was hurt badly and had to be flown about 80 miles to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where she was reported as being in serious condition at first.
She had emergency surgery and was put back together again. Her right leg was hurt very badly, which was a shame.
Shane, Addison’s dad, said, “The shark bit her right leg, and the front quad muscle was destroyed.”
“It was terrible, a really bad wound. The vascular surgeon took a vein from the left leg and turned it into an artery for the right leg.
Doctors don’t want to cut her leg off at the hip. Surgeons will also try to save enough of her lower leg’s flesh so that devices can be attached to it.
“The most important thing is that she is still alive!” Shane said.
Even though she just went through something scary, Addison is staying upbeat. Her friends also stopped by the ICU to see her.
“When she woke up, she was typing on her phone to talk to us. Shane wrote on Facebook, “She was in a good mood and making jokes about beating up the shark.”
Addison’s first request was for a Frosty from Wendy’s.
The teen is already set to have a second surgery to find out how bad the damage is and what kinds of treatments can be used to save her leg.
The shark that bit Addison was about 9 feet long, but the sheriff’s office doesn’t know what kind of shark it was.
They also sent safety warnings to everyone in the area who swims or looks for scallops.
The sheriff’s office said that swimmers and scallopers should be aware of sharks and be careful around them.
“Some rules to follow are: don’t swim alone, don’t get in the water near fishermen, stay away from places like sandbars where sharks like to hang out, don’t swim near big schools of fish, and don’t move around erratically in the water.”
To help with Addison’s hospital bills, you can send a check to the Buckeye Community Federal Credit Union with “Addison Bethea” written on the message line. The address is 1825 S. Jefferson St., Perry, FL 32348.
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