Teen Saved From Shark by Brother Will Lose Her Leg

Florida's Addison Bethea was gathering scallops when she was attacked
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2022 7:35 AM CDT
Updated Jul 5, 2022 3:00 AM CDT
With Brother's Help, Teen Fights Off Attacking Shark
Stock image. It's not clear what type of shark was involved in the attack.   (Getty/Beto Borman)

Update: The unfortunately expected outcome will come to pass. CBS News reports Addison Bethea, the 17-year-old Florida girl who was attacked by a shark Thursday near Tallahassee, will have her right leg amputated Tuesday. Mother Michele Murphy spoke about her daughter's miracle survival: "My daughter, by medical standards, should not be alive right now and I know that. ... If Rhett hadn't been the one that was with her when it happened we may be in a very different scenario right now." It remains unclear what kind of shark bit Addison, but witnesses estimate it was 9 feet long. Our original story from Friday follows:

A 17-year-old in Florida fought off an attacking shark with the help of her brother, but Addison Bethea may lose her right leg. Bethea was gathering scallops in about 5 feet of water Thursday at Keaton Beach in Taylor County when a shark estimated to be 9 feet long bit onto her thigh, reports the Guardian. Bethea began "poking it in the eyes and punching it," but the shark would not let go, her father, Shane Bethea, wrote online. Brother Rhett Willingham, a firefighter, joined the fight, freed his sister, and got her onto the boat of a stranger who saw the commotion, per the Tallahassee Democrat.

Bethea was airlifted to a hospital in Tallahassee, about 60 miles away, and after surgery, "the long term outlook for her leg is not good," wrote dad Shane in an update Saturday. Bethea herself spoke to Good Morning America about the attack. "Something latches onto my leg and I was like that's not right—and then I look and it’s a big old shark," she recalls. "Then I remember from watching the Animal Planet to like ... punch [it] in the nose or something like that. And I couldn't get around to his nose the way he bit me." That's when brother Rhett arrived and managed to kick the shark away while pulling his sister backward. It's believed to be the first shark attack recorded in Taylor County, per the Democrat. (More shark attack stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.