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Teen's 'life changed forever' after 9-foot shark sank jaws into leg before brother saved her

Teen's 'life changed forever' after 9-foot shark sank jaws into leg before brother saved her

Her brother's quick-thinking saved her life

A teen who lost her leg after being attacked by a shark has opened up about the terrifying experience and shared how her brother saved her life by fighting off the animal.

Addison Bethea, 18, was looking for scallops in the shallow waters off the coast of Florida in the US last year, when she suddenly felt something tugging on her leg.

Bethea initially thought it was her brother Rhett Willingham - but was left horrified when she turned around and saw the nine-foot-long bull shark about to latch onto her leg.

The shark chomped down on Bethea’s leg while she desperately attempted to free herself.

Speaking to the BBC for documentary Why Sharks Attack, she said: "I felt something grabbing me. I thought it was Rhett as it pulled me under because I didn’t feel any pain or anything.

Addison Bethea and her brother Rhett.

“But then it started kind of shaking me and that’s when I knew it was something else.

"It started biting into my right thigh and I was gouging its eye to get it off me and then it started swimming away with me still in its mouth."

Fortunately for the teen, her brother was nearby and after seeing his sister in danger he sprung into action - swimming up to the shark and kicking it until it swam away.

He told the BBC: "I heard Addison yell and she surfaced and I immediately could see this tail, just slashing back and forth.

"I grabbed her and started hitting it to get it off."

He pulled his sister back to the safety of his boat, where he made a tourniquet to help slow the bleeding from her wounds.

The pair were then collected from the boat by a larger vessel and brought back to the shore at Keaton Beach, in Taylor County in north-west Florida where emergency services were waiting.

Addison is lucky to be alive following the attack.
Tallahassee Memorial Health Care

Thinking back to how her brother supported her following the shark attack, she said: “Rhett kept tapping me on my face and saying 'You’re going to be okay' and I said, ‘Okay’.

"You obviously just want to go to sleep because you’re in shock and keep passing out and losing a lot of blood."

The teen was airlifted to hospital where medics amputated her leg above the knee - but things could have been much worse had it not been for her brother’s heroic actions.

Their dad Shane said: ​​"If Rhett hadn’t been there, we would be at the funeral home instead of the hospital. That boy is the definition of a hero."

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@addison_bethea / BBC

Topics: TV and Film, BBC, Sharks, US News