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NY Post
New York Post
22 Jul 2023

NextImg:I almost died in a shark attack — now I’m pregnant with my first child

Addison Bethea was about to start her senior year of high school when an aggressive 9-foot shark bit her right leg in June 2022.

She has recovered from nearly losing her life — and now she is preparing to give birth to her first child.

“It’s crazy to be bringing a brand new life into [the world] when mine was almost gone,” Bethea, 18, told “Good Morning America” on Wednesday. “It’s kind of crazy how that works.”

The northwest Floridian was scalloping at Keaton Beach with her brother, Rhett Willingham, when the shark grabbed her.

“It felt like someone just pulling you under water, like that scary sensation when someone just touches you in the water,” she recalled. “I didn’t feel any pain or anything the entire time it bit me other than when I tried to pry it off with my hands.”

Bethea lost her right leg the summer before her senior year of high school.

After trying to poke the shark’s eyes and punch its nose, she screamed for help.

Willingham, a firefighter and emergency medical technician, came to her rescue.

“It’s almost like when you’re in a dream, and you’re trying to scream in a dream, and it feels like nothing’s coming out. That’s what I felt like in that moment, so I belted as loud as I could,” she continued.

Willingham eventually freed his sister, who was airlifted to a Tallahassee hospital about 80 miles away.

Over the course of six surgeries, doctors reconstructed much of her thigh and amputated her right leg above the knee.

She now has a prosthetic leg.

Addison Bethea on beach in orange swimsuit

Thanks to the quick action of her brother, Bethea survived the attack.
Facebook/Addison Bethea

Addison Bethea and her father

After a speedy recovery, Bethea was able to walk at her school’s homecoming ceremony and attend her graduation.
Facebook/Shane Bethea

The former cheerleader’s speedy recovery allowed her to attend classes in person, participate in the annual homecoming celebration, and even walk at her graduation in May.

She said she isn’t restricted from the activities she loves — she just has to get creative.

“I’m still doing the stuff I used to do, it’s just little slower and it’s a learning process, but I still do it my own ways,” said Bethea, who intends to pursue a degree in physical therapy.

On July 1, one year after the attack, she returned to Keaton Beach and the water without fear.

“It didn’t make me sad or anything,” she explained. “I didn’t get emotional. It was just like [a] back to just normal kind of thing, hop back into routine.”

Addison Bethea in hospital

Bethea plans to pursue a career in physical therapy.

Addison Bethea and her father in selfie

“You can’t just be mad at the ocean when you’re in [sharks’] territory,” she said.
Facebook/Shane Bethea

Looking ahead, Bethea plans to welcome her first child in December at the same hospital that treated her post-attack.

Her story has served as both an inspiration and a warning to others who dare trespass in shark-infested waters.

“You can’t just be mad at the ocean when you’re in [sharks’] territory,” she said. “They know what they’re doing. They know what they want to eat. You’ve just got to be mindful of that.”