Addison Bethea, 17, of Perry, Fla., shown below with her brother, is recovering at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital following a shark attack on Thursday, June 30, off the coast of Keaton Beach.
According to officials, Addison was scalloping when she was bitten by a shark estimated to be about 9 feet in length.
The shark was aggressive and attacked her several times until her brother was able to physically separate the shark from his sister.
Thanks to the help of her brother, Rhett Willingham, who is a Firefighter/EMT in Taylor County, and several other local boaters, Addison survived.
They were able to work together to tie a tourniquet to control the bleeding until Addison could be airlifted to the Bixler Trauma & Emergency Center at TMH, the only Level II Trauma Center in the Big Bend Region of Florida.
According to the hospital, Addison has devastating damage to the soft tissue in her right leg. The TMH trauma team stabilized her, and the trauma surgeon performed emergency surgery with a goal of restoring blood flow to her leg.
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She will undergo a second surgery Saturday, July 2 to further investigate the extent of the damage to her leg and determine what treatment options are available with the goal of saving her leg.
“Addison has a long journey to recovery, but she was in good spirits today, surrounded by her family in Tallahassee Memorial’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Addison’s family would like to thank their community in Taylor County and everyone who has reached out offering their prayers and support during this difficult time,” said TMC in a statement.