Semi takes man in a wheelchair on 50 MPH ride
6:25 AM, Jun 8, 2007
Click here to see the entire interview with Ben Carpenter on his wild ride
Paw Paw - He was stuck to the front of a semi, going down the road at 50 miles an hour. Now, he's talking about his unbelievable ride.
It all happened in Van Buren County Wednesday afternoon. The man, who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy was visiting Paw Paw when his wheelchair was hit by the semi.
Investigators say the semi truck owned by RMI had pulled out of a local gas station. The young man in the wheelchair some how pulled in front of the semi-truck, causing his wheelchair handles to become stuck in the front grill of the truck.
Today, 21-year old Ben Carpenter says, "It was very scary." As he sits in his parent's garage near Kalamazoo, he describes how he was taken for a ride. Ben says, "I was crossing in front of a traffic light when they [semi driver] had a red light. He took off and I got stuck in it."
The 9-11 calls began pouring in to the Paw Paw post of the Michigan State Police around 4:00 p.m. The first call came in with a woman telling dispatchers, "You are not going to believe this, there is a semi truck pushing a guy in a wheel chair on Red Arrow Highway!" Another call came from Ben's caregiver, "My client, he's in a wheelchair and he went to cross the street and the semi didn't stop and he's on the front." Another 911 caller, this one a witness, said, "There is a west bound truck dragging a man in a wheelchair. He did not see him crossing in front of him when the light changed. "
After a wild 4 mile ride, Ben and the semi ended up at the trucks distribution center. Troopers and officers found the 21-year-old man un-harmed as he sat in his wheelchair, its handles still lodged in the truck's front grill. The semi driver was in disbelief as troopers told him about the man on his front grill until he saw it for himself.
Trooper Michael Sinke says, "He was pretty shaken up. Understandably, I would say he was in a state of shock about what happened. He says he didn't see him."
Troopers took pictures after it happened. Ben was eventually taken to the hospital, but released a short time later. Ever since then, the Carpenter's phone has been ringing off the hook.
Ben's dad Don says, "They're calling from around the world. It's amazing. I'm overwhelmed with it."
As for Ben, his wheelchair did have to get new tires, but he came out of it, without a scratch. He says he's never been a religious person, until now. He says, "I'm not, but I, uh, somebody was watching over me."
The Carpenters say they have no hard feelings for the truck driver. They say it was clearly an accident. They are however, going to get a tall flag for the back of Ben's wheelchair.
They say that will help drivers see him better.
One trooper said, "You could work another 90 years in Law Enforcement and never see something like this. We're just glad no one was injured in this unusual incident."
John Bumgardner / Sarah Sell