Florida Teen Punched Shark That Attacked Her Leg, Father Says

·3 min read
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare

The Florida teen whose leg was severely injured in a shark attack Thursday punched and poked the eyes of the carnivore attempting to eat her, her father said in a Facebook post.

Addison Bethea is now awake and alert in the ICU of a Tallahassee hospital after almost losing her life to the 9-foot beast while scalloping off the coast of Keaton Beach in Taylor County. In order to scare the predator, Addison and her brother bravely fought off the shark, which bit her right leg twice before swimming away, her dad wrote in a Facebook post Friday.

“By the grace of God, she was with her brother Rhett Willingham, who is a first responder/firefighter, who acted quickly to literally fight off the shark and pull her away and into a nearby boat of an unknown person (thank you to whoever you are),” her dad, Shane Bethea, said.

After getting his sister to the safety of a boat, Willingham put a tourniquet on her leg, preventing massive blood loss and saving her life, Shane continued. Addison was airlifted to the hospital once the boat reached the shore and immediately went into emergency surgery, he said.

“[Doctors] had to remove a vein from her left leg to create an artery in the right to try and get blood flow reestablished to her foot and lower leg. The nerve on the back of the thigh was damaged severely. There is an unreal amount of damage to her thigh area,” Shane said.

https://www.facebook.com/TallahasseeMemorial/photos/a.162195950486361/5429469897092247/

As of Friday, doctors still weren’t sure how severe the damage to her leg is and are monitoring her condition, Shane said. Addison will undergo a second surgery Saturday, the hospital said in its own Facebook post Friday.

Shane also reported that Addison, who was sedated until Friday, is now able to communicate by typing on her phone, joking about beating up the shark and asking for a frosty from Wendy’s.

“She’s been through more than I could ever imagine but she is being a trooper,” Shane said. “Please pray for her and the difficulty of her days ahead. She isn’t out of the woods by any stretch, but she is alive and that’s what’s most important to us.”

In a separate Facebook post, Michelle Murphy, Addison’s mom, wrote that her daughter was surrounded by her older brothers and other family members in the hospital.

“Right now we just ask for continued prayers for our sweet girl,” Murphy said. “She’s a tough cookie and she has a long road ahead of her but she’s alive and that’s all this mama cares about.”

Another “possible” shark bite Thursday prompted Florida officials in Nassau County, which sits about 150 miles from Taylor County where Addison was attacked, to ramp up beach patrols over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the New York Post reports.

The patrols consist of lifeguards jet skiing along the coast of beach towns, watching for sharks.

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