Okaloosa County teen amputee moves forward with new mobility

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OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — It’s been nearly eight months since 18-year-old Bethany Phillips’ life was changed forever while jet skiing with her father in Okaloosa County.

But she’s not letting a devastating accident define her.

On August 15, Phillips and her father James were T-boned by another jet ski on Poquito Bayou. Phillips’s leg was broken and severed an artery suppling blood to her leg.

Her father broke his pelvis and back.

“I remember being flung into the water and not really knowing what was going on at all,” Phillips said on Tuesday.

A good samaritan and former EMT stayed with her providing treatment until an ambulance could arrive.

Phillips was transported to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, where she had about a dozen surgeries.

She was later transported for treatment in Birmingham, where she was given two options.

“The first option would save my foot but I wouldn’t be able to do much with it,” she said. “But, I remember thinking if I’m an amputee, I can still do basically anything.”

Phillips chose option two and in September, her leg was amputated. In March, she was fitted with a prosthetic leg at the Hanger Clinic in Fort Walton Beach.

Her progress since has inspired those around her.

“Honestly she’s surpassing my expectations and where we thought we would be at this point,” said Ted Graves, area clinic manager at Hanger Clinic in Fort Walton Beach. “We’re excited for what the future is going to be bringing.”

Since getting her prosthetic leg, Phillips said she has been motivated than before the accident and hasn’t let her situation hold her back.

She’s even stared in Choctawhatchee High School’s production of Steel Magnolias.

“It’d be great if I inspired people to do what they wanted to do, but I just wanted to do it because it was my senior year,” Phillips said while laughing.

Phillips said she’s excited her new mobility will allow her to walk at graduation in June and eventually get back on the water. She was fitted with a waterproof hydraulic ankle, the EchelonER, to make this possible.

Phillips offered this advice to other amputees out there: “Know it’s going to suck sometimes, but you can do basically anything. You can still do anything.”

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