Woman, teen recovering after separate shark attacks off Florida Keys, near Panhandle

MIAMI (WSVN) - Two separate shark attacks that took place a day apart off the coast of Florida left a woman and a teenage girl with serious injuries.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, a woman was bitten by a shark off near the Tarpon Belly Keys, Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said the victim, who is in her 30s, was swimming with her family at the time. She jumped off a boat and surfaced with a large laceration to her leg.

Others on board the boat were able to apply pressure and a tourniquet to prevent more bleeding.

Monroe County Fire Rescue crews met the victim on shore and transported her to Summerland Key Airport.

From there, she was transferred to a Miami-area hospital via Trauma Star.

First responders said the patient received a blood transfusion while she was being transported in the helicopter.

“Luckily, we carry some things on this aircraft that helped very much in this case,” said Monroe County Fire Rescue spokesperson Linda Rusinowski.

On Thursday, authorities said, another horrific situation unfolded, this time near the Florida Panhandle.

The victim, 17-year-old Addison Bethea, described the harrowing moments from her hospital bed.

The teen said she felt a sharp pain in her leg.

“It latches on to my leg. I look, and it’s a big old shark,” she said.

Bethea said she was scalloping with her brother in Taylor County, just south of Tallahassee, when the shark bit her.

“I remember from watching Animal Planet, you’re supposed to punch them nose or something like that,” she said, “but I couldn’t get around to his nose in the way he bit me.”

The victim’s mother, Michelle Murphy, said the teen’s brother, a firefighter, saw what was happening and jumped in to help.

“Her brother came up and started punching the shark,” said Murphy.

Bethea’s brother was able to fight off the marine predator and pull his younger sister away into a nearby boat.

“I know that Rhett ended up jumping in the boat, and they had re-roped, and he grabbed it immediately and put a tourniquet around her leg,” said Murphy.

The siblings made it back to a nearby beach, and then she was flown to a hospital in Tallahassee.

“What I’m grateful for is that she was with her brother when this happened, because he knew the right things to do to save her life,” said Murphy.

Murphy said her daughter is a cheerleader and tennis player. While her injuries are severe, she said, the most important thing is the fact that the teen is still alive and in good spirits.

“This is life changing for her, but we’ll get her through this, and it’s something to embrace, and she’ll go forward from this and maybe do something positive out of all of this,” said Murphy.

The woman attacked off the Florida Keys is listed in stable condition. Both victims face a long road to recovery.

According to the international shark attack file, in 2021 there were 73 unprovoked shark bites around the world and nine of them were fatal.