A Florida teenager whose routine boat trip nearly ended in tragedy when an anchor lodged its way into his head is doing just fine — a recovery his doctor says is “one in a million.”
Caleb Bennett, 14, of Manatee County, was spending time with his friends and brother on the water in March when a freak accident resulted in the boat’s anchor lodging itself nearly three inches deep into his right frontal lobe, his mother Kelli Bennett told local CBS affiliate WTSP.
“The anchor fell off the front,” his dad Rick explained to the outlet. “They were driving fast and when the rope pulled tight, it sling-shot up into the boat.”
Caleb, who has spent time on boats his entire life, knew the key to surviving the incident was remaining calm.
“As soon as I got my hands on it, I kind of felt what it was, and I realized it was in my head pretty far,” he told Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “I just stayed calm. I told my friend, ‘Hey, you need to call 911 or I’m going to die.’ ”
Caleb was rushed into emergency surgery at the hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was later placed in a medically induced coma in order to give his brain time to heal.
“We need to take out a big piece of skull, try to clean up the pieces of bone and whatever else he has in there from the anchor,” pediatric neurosurgeon Luis Rodriguez told Johns Hopkins. “And more important, give his brain space to swell because that’s what’s going to happen.”
Kelli and Rick were celebrating their anniversary in the Bahamas when they got news of their son’s injury, and quickly rushed home to be by his side.
Though they were told there was a chance Caleb may never speak or walk again, he was back up on his feet within days, as a 3D image of the blood vessels in his head revealed that somehow the anchor did not touch any of them.
“He should’ve died right where he stood. Even if this is our cross to bear for a while or indefinitely, it’s better than the alternative,” Rick told CNN.
Caleb, meanwhile, is more incredulous than anything else over his injury, and jokes that the accident even landed him a new nickname.
“I can’t believe I had an anchor in my head. Like, that’s pretty crazy. My friends now call me the ‘Anchorman,’ so that’s kind of cool. I’m kind of a big deal around here,” Caleb told the hospital.
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Though the teen is still on the mend — he suffered two minor seizures in one day several weeks ago — his progress has astounded Rodriguez.
“I’ve seen things like this, but I’ve never seen an anchor, number one, and number two, I’ve never seen somebody with an injury like that walk out of the hospital almost completely neurologically intact. That’s one in a million,” he told the hospital.
Meanwhile, Caleb’s community in Florida has rallied around him and his family, presenting the Bennetts with a $30,000 check in August following a fishing tournament fundraiser, WTSP reports.