A TEEN who lost part of her leg after being attacked by a nine-foot shark in Florida has spoken of her bloody ordeal for the first time.
Addison Bethea, 17, was scalloping in water about five feet deep near Grassy Island, just off Keaton Beach, when she was attacked by the beast in Taylor County on Thursday.
She was rushed to hospital with serious injuries as doctors desperately attempted to save her severely torn lib.
On Friday, she described the heroic efforts of her half-brother Rhett Willingham, 22, who jumped in the water and beat the huge shark off until his sibling was free.
"Rhett was just like tapping me and the something latches onto my leg. And I was like, 'That’s not Rhett'. I look and there’s this big old shark,'" Addison told WTXL.
“I remembered from watching animal planet you’re supposed to punch them in the nose or something – but I couldn’t get around to his nose the way he bit me,” she added.
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According to the teen’s father, the pair were together in Rhett’s boat roughly a mile and a half offshore when the girl suddenly felt something clamp down onto the back of her leg.
Shane Addison, 46, told the Daily Mail: “Addison thought her brother was just playing around until a 9-foot shark latched onto her thigh and she started screaming, and there was blood everywhere.”
He explained how brother Rhett quickly took evasive action as he beat the shark repaeatly in a desperate attempt to pry his sister loose.
After snaring the beast, he reportedly grabbed his wounded sibling and carried her to a nearby boat where he flagged down a passing boat.
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Shane praised Rhett’s quick thinking after he used a 4-foot tourniquet around her right upper leg top stop the bleeding as she was rushed to the shore.
“The shark got her bad,” Shane said. “She was very pale, and nearly going into shock.”
As the pair arrived back on land, Addison was airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where doctors were tasked with saving a proportion of her bloody limb.
Dad Shane described how his daughter’s quad muscle were “completely annihilated” after the shark had mauled her right leg twice.
“It was devastating, a nasty, nasty wound,” he said.
“The vascular surgeon took the vein from the left leg and turned it into an artery for the right leg to get blood flow.”
He confirmed that his daughter is set to undergo a second surgery on Saturday as surgeons attempt to salvage enough tissue to enable a prosthetic for be fitted.
He added that medics were trying to avoid taking her leg off from her hip as she prepares for life after the incident.
“That she is even alive is the number one thing”, he added.
WARNING TO SWIMMERS
The latest attack comes as parks and recreation officials put swimmers on high alert due to an increase in shark sightings reported earlier than usual this summer.
Several factors, including warming ocean temperatures, are contributing to an increase in shark activity in cities along the Atlantic Ocean coastline and West Coast.
A resurgence of the bunker fish population is also luring them to area waters.
On Wednesday, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy scientist Megan Winton issued a great white shark alert ahead of the Fourth of July weekend after experts warned of a mass migration of the predators.
Winton warned that Cape Cod's warm waters in July attract great white sharks to the coast.
Sightings of the predators peak from August through October, the scientist explains, as per The Associated Press.
"Just know that large sharks are here," Winton said. "They’re a constant presence from June to the fall."
State marine biologist Greg Skomal, who has been studying great whites for decades, said sharks usually concentrate on the Atlantic Ocean-facing side of Cape Cod.
Sharks are drawn to this area to feast on the thriving seal population, Skomal said.
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He warns anyone visiting the coast to be very careful when swimming off beaches where the shoreline quickly drops off into deeper waters.
“Sharks will come close to the shore when they have water depth,” Skomal added.
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