16-year-old paralyzed in ATV crash saved girlfriend - KMSP-TV

16-year-old paralyzed in ATV crash saved girlfriend

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HINCKLEY, Minn. (KMSP) -

His life may never be the same, but the 16-year-old running back from Hinckley-Finlayson High School was able to get his girlfriend to safety when the unthinkable happened while the two were riding his four-wheeler.

When the ATV failed, Joshua Benson was able to push his girlfriend away from danger -- but not himself. He'd already rolled into a ditch and was paralyzed from the waist down. On Monday, he underwent an 8-hour surgery at North Memorial Hospital -- and his family was there to show their support.

"He's been riding for years and we never saw this coming," Justin Jensen told Fox 9 News. "It was just a freak accident."

Although rods and screws are now holding Benson's lower back together, his family is still optimistic that the community will rally behind him during this difficult time. According to his big brother, Benson loved riding his ATV as much as he loved fixing it up.

"If it was broken, it was replaced by Josh," Jensen explained.

The junior and handy man took his girlfriend, Kelly McFarland, out for a ride on Meadow Lily Lane on Saturday morning when the right suspension locked up while the two were traveling at about 30 mph. Family members say his quick thinking saved McFarland, but there was not enough time for Benson to jump off the 700-pound vehicle himself.

"I ran over there and tried to get it off, but I couldn't," McFarland recalled.

The crash severed Benson's spinal cord and nerves. Doctors told his mother that he will probably never walk again -- but while the prognosis may seem grim, the teen's family and friends aren't giving up hope.

"He's going to walk again," Bailey McFarland insisted. "That's the end of the story. He's determined."

The Benson family said they have no intention of letting the accident hold them back, but they hope that their story will serve as a reason to give riders a cautious pause.

"Four-wheelers are no joke," Marie Benson said. "He wasn't messing around. What do you do when something like that happens?"

Although Jensen said he and his family will "excel" through this trial, the family stressed that ATV riders need to respect the dangerous nature of that recreation and prepare to call for help if need be. They expect that Josh Benson will be in the hospital for at least a month, and a CaringBridge site has been set up in his name so people can follow his recovery.

The family is also struggling to cope with the cost of the mounting medical bills, and they have set up a benefit fund with TCF Bank. Donations can be dropped off at any TCF branch under the Joshua Benson Benefit Fund.


Josh Benson wearing No. 11

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