Teenage girl suffers ‘devastating damage’ in shark attack while scallop hunting

US News

A teenage girl has been seriously injured in a shark attack off Florida’s north-western coast but is expected to survive, according to the authorities.

Addison Bethea, 17, had been hunting for scallops on the coast off the Keaton Beach when a shark wrapped its jaws around her thigh.

The shark was aggressive and attacked her several times, with Addison poking and punching at its eyes before her brother separated her from it and pulled her onto a stranger’s boat.

Her brother, Rhett Willingham – who is a firefighter and emergency medical technician – then applied a tourniquet to her leg to stem the blood loss.

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Ms Bethea suffered “serious injuries” in the attack and had to be airlifted to the trauma and emergency centre at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH), about 70 miles from the beach.

Officials said the species of shark is unknown.

Doctors told her family members that her leg was extensively damaged in the attack, with TMH describing it as “devastating damage to the soft tissue in her right leg”.

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Trauma specialists were able to stabilise her before the hospital’s trauma surgeon performed emergency surgery to restore blood flow to her leg.

Ms Bethea is expected to undergo a second surgery on Saturday “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”, said TMH.

“Addison has a long journey to recovery, but she was in good spirits today, surrounded by her family in Tallahassee Memorial’s Paediatric 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,” the hospital added.

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