Teen loses part of her leg in horrific shark attack on Florida beach as family member beats away predator

·3 min read

A girl in Florida was attacked by a 9ft shark and saved by a family member who started beating it until it swam away.

Addison Bethea, 17, lost part of her leg in the attack, according to reports.

“She was stabilised and there were multiple doctors trying to attend to her leg,” her father, Shane Bethea, wrote on Facebook. “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 girl had been looking for scallops close to Keaton Beach in Taylor County, northern Florida, when she was bitten by a shark in five feet deep water on Thursday, according to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office.

Coming to the girl’s aid, a family member rushed to her side and started hitting the shark until it swam off. She was airlifted to a hospital in Tallahassee with “serious injuries” according to the sheriff’s office.

The office said in a statement that “swimmers and scallopers are cautioned to be alert, vigilant, and practice shark safety”.

“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,” the agency added.

It hasn’t been reported what kind of shark attacked the girl, but it was described as being around nine feet in length. Though, the three kinds of sharks responsible for the most unprovoked attacks globally are the great white shark, the tiger shark, and the bull shark -- all of which can be well over nine feet long.

In the waters off the East Coast, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, dozens of shark types can be found.

Sharks can be found on both the US East and West Coasts. Florida is the state with the largest number of unprovoked shark attacks in the US, reporting almost 900 attacks since 1837, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum.

No other state comes close – Hawaii is second with 182 and California is third with 132.

The file also shows Florida at the top of the global list of reported shark bites, with 38 per cent of unprovoked bites in the world in 2021 being reported in the state.

Florida has reported on average 25 incidents each year over the last half-decade.

The International Shark Attack File shows that the number of attacks seems to be going down. While shark attacks remain a possible hazard, lighting strikes lead to more fatal incidents on an annual basis.