Her brother freed her leg from the animal’s jaws.
The ability to think quickly is advantageous in life-threatening situations. This young man, thankfully, has it, which is why he was able to save her sister from a near-death experience.
Addison Bethea, a 17-year-old Florida resident, was scalloping on Keaton Beach on June 30 when she was joined by an unexpected guest.
“And the next thing I know something latches onto my leg and I was like that’s not right. And then I look and it’s a big old shark,” the teen told Good Morning America.
Thankfully, an episode of Animal Planet jogged Addison’s recollection of her knowledge about shark attacks. She knew she needed to punch the shark’s nose in the event of an attack, but she was immobilized and unable to do so.
Despite her hopeless situation, the courageous teenager continued to fight the shark. She attempted to remove her legs using only her hands.
Rhett Willingham, Addison’s older brother, jumped into the water to save her as soon as the water turned red.
Rhett stated, “She came back up and I saw, like, the blood and everything, and I saw the shark,” Rhett said.
“So then I swam over there, grabbed her, and then pushed them all, kind of trying to separate them. And he just kept coming. So I grabbed her, swam backward and kicked him, and then yelled for help,” he continued, attempting to explain what he did in that crucial moment.
Rhett, age 22, is trained for emergency situations, as he is an emergency medical technician and firefighter in Taylor County. To save his sister, he relentlessly punched and kicked the shark, and when it finally let go of Addison, he snatched her up and placed her on a nearby stranger’s boat.
The brother used the boat’s rope to fashion a 4-foot tourniquet, which he wrapped around his sister’s right upper leg to stop the bleeding.
Addison was then airlifted to the closest hospital, where her condition was described as “critical.”
Due to the severity of her injuries, the 17-year-old victim of a shark attack required immediate surgery.
Addison’s father, Shane Bethea, stated,“The shark attacked her right leg, front quad muscle was completely annihilated,” Addison’s dad, Shane Bethea said. “It was devastating, a nasty, nasty wound. The vascular surgeon took the vein from the left leg and turned it into an artery for the right leg to get blood flow.”
Despite what had transpired, they were thankful she had survived that terrifying moment when she was attacked by a shark that they believed to be at least 9 feet in length!
The Addison shark attack occurred only four days after residents spotted sharks in the same area. It was also preceded by an attack in the Florida Keys and another in California that occurred within days of one another.
Authorities warned both swimmers and scallopers in the area to remain vigilant and on high alert following Addison’s case.
If you want to know how Addison is doing, you may visit Shane Bethea’s Facebook page. Those who wish to assist with medical expenses may send a check made payable to “Addison Bethea” to the Buckeye Community Federal Credit Union, 1808 S. Jefferson Street, Perry, Florida 32348.