‘I just started punching him in the face’: 17-year-old describes terrifying moment shark attacked her

Addison Bethea was searching for scallops in the waters off Keaton Beach, Florida on Thursday when a shark latched onto her meat. “I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew with sharks you’re supposed to punch them in the nose to get them off, and I couldn’t move to punch him in the nose,” he said. the 17-year-old told CNN. “So I just started punching him in the face, then I pricked his eyes and tried to lock him in place with my fingers, then he bit my hand.” She screamed for help, and her brother Rhett Willingham, a firefighter/EMT, answered the call. “I heard her making noise, almost like something was scaring her,” he said. “I sat and watched and didn’t see her. Then she came out of the water and I saw the shark and the blood and all that, then I swam in there and I removed (the shark).” After battling the shark, Willingham pulled his sister into another boat, applied a tourniquet to her leg to stem the blood loss and brought her back to shore as quickly as possible, he said. The siblings opened up about the heartbreaking moments in an interview with CNN Monday from a bed at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where Addison was being treated for her injuries. The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a statement on social media that a miner “sustained a shark bite while scalloping near Grassy Island in water approximately five feet deep.” The office said the shark was about 9 feet long. The bite left “devastating soft tissue damage to his right leg,” according to a statement from Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH). “The TMH trauma team stabilized her and the trauma surgeon performed emergency surgery in an attempt to restore blood flow to her leg,” hospital officials said Friday. Injuries seemed to have done little to deter Addison. Surrounded by stuffed sharks in her hospital bed, the teenager appeared upbeat even as she said she was due to have her leg amputated above the knee on Tuesday. “It’s going to make things a lot easier in the end,” she said. “I’m excited for this, to be honest. I’m sick of sitting in bed all the time.” “Anyone who knows me knows that I take humor in everything, so yeah, I just love stuffed sharks,” she said. . “I think it’s funny. I’m just making light of the situation.” In a Facebook post, her father said she was in good spirits and “makes jokes about beating the shark”. “The first thing she asked for was an icy Wendy’s,” he said. “She has been through more than I could ever imagine, but she is a soldier. Please pray for her and the difficulty of her days ahead. She is not out of the woods, but she is alive and that’s what’s most important to us.” Willingham told CNN the experience was “definitely not something I expected to see, but to see it now and how positive it is is good to see.” As for her future plans, Addison was undeterred: She plans to get back in the water once she recovers. “I mean, a shark was always there, I happened to attack me that day,” she said. “I’ve lived 17 years without a shark attack. I’m okay with going back.”

Addison Bethea was searching for scallops in the waters off Keaton Beach, Florida on Thursday when a shark latched onto her meat.

“I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew with sharks you’re supposed to punch them in the nose to get them off of you, and I couldn’t move to punch him. in the nose,” the 17-year-old told CNN. “So I just started punching him in the face, then I pricked his eyes and tried to lock him in place with my fingers, then he bit my hand.”

She screamed for help and her brother Rhett Willingham, a firefighter/EMT, answered the call.

“I heard her making noise, almost like something was scaring her,” he said. “I sat and looked and didn’t see her. Then she came out of the water and I saw the shark and the blood and all that, then I swam in there and I removed (the shark).”

After battling the shark, Willingham pulled his sister into another boat, applied a tourniquet to her leg to stem the blood loss and brought her back to shore as quickly as possible, he said.

The siblings opened up about the heartbreaking moments in an interview with CNN Monday from a bed at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where Addison was being treated for her injuries.

The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a statement on social media that a minor “sustained a shark bite while swimming near Grassy Island in water approximately five feet deep.” The office said the shark was about 9 feet long.

The bite left “devastating soft tissue damage to his right leg,” according to a statement from Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH). “The TMH trauma team stabilized her and the trauma surgeon performed emergency surgery in an attempt to restore blood flow to her leg,” hospital officials said Friday.

Injuries appeared to have done little to dampen Addison’s morale. Surrounded by stuffed sharks in her hospital bed, the teenager appeared upbeat even as she announced she was due to have her leg amputated above the knee on Tuesday.

“It’s going to make things a lot easier in the end,” she said. “I’m excited for this, to be honest. I’m sick of sitting in bed all the time.”

“Anyone who knows me knows that I take humor in everything, so yeah, I just love stuffed sharks,” she said. “I think it’s funny. Just to shed some light on the situation.”

In a Facebook post, her father said she was in good spirits and “makes jokes about beating the shark”.

“The first thing she asked for was a Wendy’s frosty,” he said. “She has been through more than I could ever imagine, but she is a soldier. Please pray for her and the difficulty of her days ahead. She is not out of the woods, but she is alive and that’s what’s most important to us.”

Willingham told CNN the experience was “definitely not something I expected to see, but to see it now and how positive it is is good to see.”

As for her future plans, Addison was undeterred: she plans to get back in the water once she recovers.

“I mean, a shark was always there, I happened to attack me that day,” she said. “I’ve lived 17 years without a shark attack. I’m okay with going back.”

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