Teenage girl almost has her leg bitten off in shark attack in Florida

FILE – A great white shark swims past a boat on a shark watching boat off the Massachusetts’ coast of Cape Cod on Aug. 17, 2021. The New England Aquarium and an environmental group are launching a project to use data collected about white shark sightings via an app to make beaches more safe. (G3 Box News Photo/Charles Krupa, File) Charles Krupa/G3 Box News

Teenage girl almost has her leg bitten off in shark attack in Florida

Ryan King

July 02, 11:47 AM July 02, 11:48 AM

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A 17-year-old teenager, who was bitten by a shark at a Florida beach Thursday, is undergoing a second round of surgery Saturday in the hope of saving her leg, according to officials.

Addison Bethea was scalloping when the sharp-toothed underwater carnivore attacked her, biting her multiple times before her brother jumped in to fend off the creature, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare said. She underwent emergency surgery Thursday and is expected to survive.


“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,” Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare said in a statement.

The surgery Saturday will enable medical professionals to assess the extent of the damage on her leg and consider treatment options moving forward, according to officials.

Her brother Rhett Willingham, who works as a firefighter, managed to separate her from the shark. He put a tourniquet on her leg to stem the blood loss and was also assisted by other boaters and locals in the area, per officials. Bethea was then airlifted to the hospital.

She had been scalloping near Grassy Island in water that was roughly 5 feet deep. The shark was estimated to be 9 feet long.

“Boaters and swimmers are cautioned to be alert, vigilant, and practice shark safety,” the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office said, WCTV reported. “Some rules to follow are: never swim alone, do not enter the water near fishermen, avoid areas such as sandbars (where sharks like to congregate), do not swim near large schools of fish, and avoid erratic movements while in the water.”

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Shark attacks spiked considerably in 2021 with 73 unprovoked occurrences last year, compared to 52 in 2020, researchers at the International Shark Attack File found. Roughly 40% of the global shark attacks reported took place in Florida, which had a total of 28 shark bites.

Outside of Florida, the United States recorded 19 shark bites, and the rest of the world recorded 26 cases, per the International Shark Attack File.

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