Florida Teen Will Have Part of Leg Amputated Due to 'Extensive' Injuries from Shark Attack

·3 min read

A teenager is speaking out for the first time since she was attacked by a shark off the coast of Florida last week.

Addison Bethea was seriously injured on Thursday when the nine-foot shark clamped onto her while she was searching for scallops near Keaton Beach.

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, where Bethea is being treated, announced on Facebook that the 17-year-old would have her leg amputated above her right knee on Tuesday due to "extensive" injuries.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, Bethea said she is looking forward to the procedure.

"It's going to make it a lot easier in the end," she told the outlet from her hospital bed. "I'm excited for it, to be honest. I'm tired of sitting in bed all the time."

According to a news release from the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Bethea was in five feet of water near Grassy Island when the unidentified shark attacked her.

The teen said she "didn't really know exactly what to do" at first. "I knew that with sharks you're supposed to punch them in the nose to get them off of you," she explained to CNN.

However, Bethea added, "I couldn't get around to punch him in the nose."

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"So then I just started socking it in the face and then poked its eyes," she recalled. "And then I tried to latch it off me with my fingers, and then it bit my hand."

Bethea's brother Rhett Willingham, a firefighter/EMT, said he heard his sister "make a noise almost like something scared her."

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"I sat up and looked and didn't see her," Willingham recalled. "Then she came up from the water and I saw the shark and the blood and all that, then I swam over there and got (the shark) off."

Afterward, Willingham managed to get his sister onto a nearby boat and helped apply a tourniquet to her wounds. "She was losing a lot of blood," he told CNN.

Bethea was airlifted to TMH, where she was stabilized and underwent surgery to address her wounds, according to a Facebook post from her father, Shane Bethea.

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According to TMH, Beatha's "devastating" injuries include "the loss of her quadriceps" as well as "massive nerve and vascular damage."

"Addison has a long road to recovery that will require extensive rehabilitation, but her family says she is staying upbeat and strong," the hospital said, adding that their patient "will be back in the ocean" upon recovery.

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Bethea isn't surprised by her brother's heroics.

"He's always been kind of like a hero to me," she told CNN. "Ever since we were little, he's always been there and I don't really expect anything less of him to be honest."

She added: "I knew once I was in trouble, he said he would get me out. He promised. So I expected nothing less."

Willingham said his sister already "seems like she wants to go back in the water," which she confirmed.

"I mean, a shark has always been there, it just happened to attack me that day," Bethea told CNN on Monday. "I lived 17 years without a shark attack. I'm fine with going back."

A GoFundMe campaign has been created to support Bethea's medical expenses following the accident.

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