Brother Dives In Water And Fights Off 9-Foot Shark To Save Sister

A brave brother saved his sister’s life by diving into water and fighting a 9-foot shark off after it bit into her leg. Addison Bethea, 17, was having a fun, normal day at a Florida beach when the shark bit into her right leg. Thankfully, big brother Rhett Willingham was on hand to help.

  1. Willingham is an EMT and a firefighter. When he heard his sister making noise, he couldn’t see her at first from his position lying down on his boat. However, when he sat up, he saw Bethea come to the surface with the shark and noticed the blood floating in the water. That’s when he knew he had to spring into action.
  2. Bethea had tried to fight the shark off herself. She remembered reading that was the best way to fight off a shark, she told CNN while recovering at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. However, she couldn’t get the shark off of her. “So I just started socking it in the face and then poked its eyes,” she recalled, adding that when she tried to use her hands to loosen the shark’s grip, it then bit her on her hand as well.
  3. Willingham managed to fight the shark off. Diving in to about 5 feet of water, he saved his sister and pulled her to his boat, quickly tying a tourniquet around her leg. However, the damage done by the shark was serious, with TMH later revealing that it had caused “devastating damage to the soft tissue in her right leg” resulting in the “loss of her quadriceps” and “massive nerve and vascular damage.”
  4. Sadly, Bethea lost her leg in the accident. She had to have her right leg amputated above the knee as the damage was too severe. Her family revealed that her surgery had gone well and set up a GoFundMe to cover the costs of care and rehabilitation from the accident. However, she remains in good spirits and said she wouldn’t be deterred from swimming again. “I lived 17 years without a shark attack. I’m fine with going back.”

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill