Her friend's father acted quickly and is credited with saving her life by torniquing her shoulder and paddling her back to shore, where she eventually passed out while waiting for the emergency ambulance.
Lifeguards believe her strong water sense and positive outlook helped get her through the traumatic ordeal.
Now that positive attitude and determination to live life has allowed her to achieve goals many of us can only dream about.
Over the past few years, Bethany has not only started surfing again, but also has become an even stronger threat to her opponents facing her in the water.
Bethany's all-star achievements are now many since the incident, including some high place finishes. And when we say high place finishes, we mean a National Championship!
In 2005 Bethany stormed through the early rounds of the NSSA Nationals at Lower Trestles, and despite facing the top women from around the country, she dominated them all en route to her first National Championship.
She's also won the Open Women's Division of the NSSA 04/05 Hawaiian Conference Season Opener, an ESPN Espy Award and a FOX Teen Choice Award.
Out of the water, Bethany is a very supportive public speaker and charity worker, spreading her life loving spirit around the world in many different ways.
She has also released a book 'Soul Surfer' and is helping with the development of a motion picture being made on her life.
"To be honest, I never wanted to write a book," says Bethany in the Foreword of 'Soul Surfer'.
"It actually took a lot of convincing by my family and friends, because I'm not someone who likes to talk a lot about myself, or thinks I'm any big deal. But they saw something in my story that would be helpful and interesting to others and they encouraged me to write it down. So here I am.
"And actually, when I really thought about it, it seemed like something that I should do. It would give a bigger picture of my faith, my family, and all those people who have helped get me back into the water again. But I'll tell you one thing: it wasn't easy."
Bethany was present in California in 2005 for the Rip Curl Malibu Pro and almost upstaged team mates Jessi Miley-Dyer and Steph Gilmore in the event Trials competition.
Bethany made it to the finals, but fell short eventually at the hands of Steph who won the Trials and Wildcard entry into the main event.
The future is wide open for this young superstar and she one of the most prized parts of Rip Curl's team puzzle.
"I just love surfing," says Bethany. "It's my love of surfing and life that makes me want to help people and show people around the world that anything is possible."