Shark Attack Survivor Transported by ShandsCair Featured on Shark Week

Bethea ShandsCair

It’s been a little over a year since Addison Bethea was attacked by a shark off the coast of Keaton Beach, Florida. It was a terrifying encounter that costed the 18-year-old her right leg, but not her life.

Thanks to UF Health’s ShandsCair 3 flight crew, she was provided lifesaving care and rapid transport before she was airlifted from the scene of the call to a local trauma center.

On Wednesday, Addison’s attack was featured during an installment of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in an episode called “Florida Shark: Blood in the Water.”

Describing the jaw-dropping incident, Addison recalled what happened that day on June 30, 2022. She was scalloping with friends about three miles offshore and about 6 or 7 feet deep when she felt something pull her under the water.

According to her brother, Rhett Willingham, it was a 9-foot bull shark, a species responsible for the highest number of fatalities in Florida.

Rhett, who happens to be a firefighter and emergency medical technician, helped fight the predator off but not before its teeth tore through Addison’s thighs and hamstrings, severing her femoral arteries and causing massive blood loss. Her lower leg was also bitten.

“When you scallop, you just put them in the bag, and then you’re supposed to clean them when you get back to land,” Addison told the Discovery Channel. “But some people started cleaning them on their boat and throwing them back into the ocean. I think the scallops there attract other fish, and then those other fish might attract sharks.”

Believing the smell of bait was present during the attack, this prompted an experimental dive in which the Shark Week experts offered both a real and fake barracuda to observe several bull sharks and see if they can mistakenly attack unnatural prey when natural prey is in the vicinity.

In 2022, the U.S. had the highest amount of shark attacks than anywhere else in the world, accounting for 70% of all shark bites, with 40% of those attacks occurring in Florida.

“Florida Shark: Blood in the Water” will re-air on the Discovery Channel on Saturday, July 29 at 3 p.m.

In other news, Good Morning America recently reported that Addison is pregnant and expecting her first child in December.