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Woman Who Lost Leg In Shark Attack Vows To Return To The Sea

Daisy Phillipson

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| Last updated 

Woman Who Lost Leg In Shark Attack Vows To Return To The Sea

Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Addison Bethea

A teenager who lost her leg in a shark attack has vowed to return to the sea as soon as she’s recovered. 

Addison Bethea, 17, spoke to the media ahead of her operation yesterday morning (5 July) where she had to have her right leg amputated above her knee.

In a conversation with the Daily Mail, the Florida resident said: “Once my leg is healed I am going back in the water.

“Even though so much may be unknown you have to just fight through the unexpected.”

Addison, who’s set to start her senior year of high school, had been swimming around various spots on Florida’s Gulf Coast on 30 June to gather scallops. 

But while in the waters of Keaton Beach, she felt a ‘tug’, which to her horror turned out to be a 9-ft long shark.

Addison has said she's not afraid of the water despite losing her leg to a shark attack. Credit: CBS Miami
Addison has said she's not afraid of the water despite losing her leg to a shark attack. Credit: CBS Miami

When she realised what was happening, Addison explained that she tried to ‘punch it in the nose’ but that it was in a ‘weird position’, adding: “Then it tried to drag me underwater.”

Thankfully, her brother Rhett Willingham was present and spotted the shark as it latched onto his sister’s leg. 

Speaking to CBS Miami, he said: “I heard her almost yelp… like something scared her. She was under the water and then she came back up and there was blood all around her and I saw the shark.”

Without hesitation, the firefighter jumped into the 5-ft deep water and helped to fend off the beast before dragging her into a nearby boat and applying a tourniquet to her leg.

After racing back to the shore, Rhett called the emergency services and Addison was airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

The incident unfolded on Florida's Gulf Coast. Credit: CBS Miami
The incident unfolded on Florida's Gulf Coast. Credit: CBS Miami

While doctors were able to save her life, they couldn’t repair the damage to her leg and she had to have it amputated. 

Their dad Shane revealed the plan is for Addison to get to a rehab facility before eventually getting a prosthetic leg. 

He went on to describe the brother as a ‘hero’, adding: “If Rhett hadn't been there, we would be at the funeral home instead of the hospital. That is for sure.”

The shark attack is the third to hit international headlines in the past week, with two women who were tragically both killed over the weekend in separate incidents in Egypt. 

On Friday (1 July), a 68-year-old Austrian woman had been swimming in Sahl Hasheesh – a popular bay on the Red Sea coast – when a shark struck. 

A source at the Red Sea Health Affairs Directorate told Reuters that she was rushed to a nearby private hospital but she succumbed to her injuries despite attempts to resuscitate her.

Shortly after the incident, it was revealed a second woman was also killed by a shark attack at a Red Sea beach.

Two sources told Reuters that the body of a Romanian tourist in her late forties was discovered just hours after the Austrian woman was fatally attacked.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677

Topics: Animals, US News

Daisy Phillipson
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