Florida teen who ‘socked 9-foot shark in the face’ describes harrowing encounter: ‘Didn’t know exactly what to do’

Addison Bethea says she ‘couldn’t get around to punch him in the nose’

Florida teen describes shark attack

A Florida teenager who survived an attack from a nine-foot shark and will have to have part of her leg amputated has described the moments of the terrifying attack.

Addison Bethea, 17, was looking for scallops close to Keaton Beach in northern Florida’s Taylor County when she was bitten by a shark in five-foot-deep water on 30 June, according to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office.

“I didn’t really know exactly what to do, but I knew that with sharks you’re supposed to punch them in the nose to get them off of you, and I couldn’t get around to punch him in the nose,” she was quoted as saying to CNN.

“So I just started socking it in the face and then poked its eyes and I tried to latch it off me with my fingers, and then it bit my hand.”

The teen then shouted for help and her brother who works as a firefighter heard her screams.

“I heard her make a noise, almost like something scared her,” her brother Rhett Willingham said. “I sat up and looked and didn’t see her. Then she came up from the water and I saw the shark and the blood and all that, then I swam over there and got [the shark] off.”

He fought off the shark and pulled his sister onto another boat.

He offered her emergency medical aid by applying a tourniquet to her leg to stem the blood loss and rushed her back to land as fast as possible, he said.

The teen is now receiving treatment at the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

The hospital, in an update in a Facebook post on Monday, said Addison will have to undergo an amputation.

“The injuries to Addison’s leg are so extensive that they will require amputation just above the right knee, which will take place during surgery on Tuesday,” it said.

“Surgeons will amputate the leg just above the knee and take muscular tissue and skin from the lower leg to wrap around Addison’s femur, reconstructing the upper leg. This will give Addison the ability to use a prosthesis for her lower leg,” it added.

The post, quoting Addison’s mother, Michelle Murphy, said the teenager got “a little emotional” when she was told about the amputation.

“But she has accepted it, and she knows this is her best path forward. She’s embracing it and trying to keep a positive outlook,” the post quoted Ms Murphy as saying.

In an earlier Facebook post, Addison’s father Shane wrote: “She was stabilised and there were multiple doctors trying to attend to her leg.”

“They had to remove a vein from her left leg to create an artery in the right to try and get blood flow reestablished to her foot and lower leg. The nerve on the back of the thigh was damaged severely. There is an unreal amount of damage to her thigh area. The doctors are unsure at this point as to the condition of the leg and want to take it day by day to see what will have to be done.”

The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office later urged swimmers and scallopers to be “alert, vigilant, and practice shark safety”.

Sharks are found both in the East and West coasts of the US, with Florida recording the highest number of unprovoked shark attacks since 1837, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum.

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