A swift reaction can be life-saving in a precarious situation. A young man aptly demonstrated this when he heroically saved his sister from a terrifyingly close encounter with death.
On the 30th of June, a chilling incident unfolded on the sands of Keaton Beach in Florida. Addison Bethea, a 17-year-old teen, was leisurely scalloping when she was unexpectedly ambushed.
“All of a sudden, something fastened onto my leg. I realized something was wrong when I saw a huge shark,” Addison shared her horrific encounter with Good Morning America.
In the face of such danger, Addison recalled facts about shark attacks she’d seen on an Animal Planet episode. She knew the strategy to thwart a shark attack involved hitting its nose, but her position didn’t allow her this maneuver.
Regardless of her desperate predicament, the courageous teenager attempted to fight the shark, trying to wrestle her leg free using just her hands.
As the water turned a sinister red, Addison’s elder brother, Rhett Willingham, plunged into the water to rescue her.
“I saw the shark as she surfaced, then noticed the blood,” Rhett recounted.
“I swam towards them, trying to pry them apart. The shark was relentless, so I grabbed her and kicked at the shark while shouting for assistance,” Rhett detailed his actions during that heart-stopping moment.
Being a trained emergency medical technician and firefighter in Taylor County, 22-year-old Rhett knew how to handle emergency scenarios. In a bid to rescue his sister, he bravely battled the shark until it eventually released Addison. He swiftly lifted her onto a nearby stranger’s boat.
The quick-witted brother proceeded to fashion a tourniquet, about 4-foot long, from the boat’s rope and bound it around his sister’s upper right leg to stem the bleeding.
Addison was urgently airlifted to the nearest hospital, where she was reported to be in a “critical condition”.
Her injuries were so grave that the 17-year-old had to immediately undergo surgery.
“The shark ravaged her right leg, completely destroyed the front quad muscle,” said Addison’s father, Shane Bethea. “The wound was gut-wrenching. The vascular surgeon grafted a vein from her left leg to restore blood flow to her right leg.”
Though shaken by the incident, the family was grateful for Addison’s survival, attributing it to the bravery displayed in the face of a vicious attack by a suspected 9-foot long “bull shark”.
The alarming attack on Addison came only days after shark sightings were reported in the same vicinity and subsequent attacks in the Florida Keys and California.
Post the incident, local authorities have urged swimmers and scallopers to exercise extreme caution.
For updates on Addison’s recovery, visit Shane Bethea’s Facebook account. Donations to help cover medical expenses can be made payable to “Addison Bethea” and sent to the Buckeye Community Federal Credit Union, 1825 S. Jefferson St., Perry, Florida, 32348.
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