LATEST: Shark bite survivor Addison Bethea discharged from TMH

Taylor County teen Addison Bethea is homebound, just over a month after a shark attack near Keaton Beach.
Addison Bethea is homebound, just over a month after a shark attack at Keaton Beach.
Addison Bethea is homebound, just over a month after a shark attack at Keaton Beach.(WCTV)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 11:36 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 7:44 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Addison Bethea is homebound just over a month after a shark attach near Keaton Beach and she took her first steps outside the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Friday.

The Perry native was discharged this morning from the Tallahassee Memorial Rehabilitation Center, as she continues her extensive road to recovery.

Our WCTV reporter Madison Glaser was there to capture the victorious moment, and she’s been there every step of the journey!

Glaser said from the beginning, and throughout Addison’s entire recovery process, it has been truly remarkable to watch.

Bethea spent 37 days in the hospital, 20 of those in the children’s center and 17 in the rehab facility at TMH. From hospital bed, to physical therapy, she is finally homebound.

“I’m excited because I’m so ready to be home and to see my friends and be in my hometown,” Addison said.

17-year-old Addison Bethea was attacked by a roughly 9-foot-long shark just off of Keaton Beach on June 30, 2022.

Those who have been working alongside her at TMH are amazed by her progress.

”When you read how much blood she lost, when you read that she was an hour away from here, when you read that she was out on the water, when you read that her brother saved her, and the trauma and the shock,” Physical Therapist Denean Sykes said.

Rhett Willingham, her firefighter brother, jumped in the water to fight off the shark and likely saved her life. And just like he was there that day, Willingham said he will be right by her side moving forward.

“I’m excited to see her leave, that’s my biggest thing right now and she’s extremely happy to leave,” Willingham said. “Seeing her actually happy is what’s good to see.”

And according to her family it’s their faith that aided in Addison’s survival.

“For us it was a God sent, the pieces were put there, and he started placing those together to create her story,” her father Shane Bethea said.

Though she’s eager to rush forward, her father is still protective and he said the next time she plans on hitting the water she has to bring a shark shield.

“I’m going to say that I was scared of sharks before but whenever you have that it’s a peace of mind because you don’t have to worry about bites,” Shane said.

As Addison embarks on this new part of her journey, she shared the number one takeaway from this life changing event.

“To never give up on things even when it’s super hard. That’s been a big thing of mine to just keep pushing forward and keeping family first because they obviously matter,” Addison said.

Her next steps will be to continue in out-patient therapy as well as getting a mold for her prosthetic.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Taylor County teen Addison Bethea is homebound, just over a month after a shark attack near Keaton Beach.

The Perry native was discharged from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Friday morning.

The road to recovery has been extensive. Bethea has gone through five surgeries since June 30, when a roughly 9-ft-long shark latched itself onto her right thigh causing it to be amputated from above the knee down.

Bethea recently settled into a rehabilitation facility as she continued to make progress in physical therapy.

She’s now moving forward on the next part of her journey, recovering at home surrounded by family and friends.

WCTV’s Madison Glaser was there as Bethea was discharged, and she will have complete coverage on Eyewitness News at 5:00pm and 6:00pm.

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