A 14-year-old boy from Manatee County, Fla., is recovering from a freak accident that left him with a boating anchor lodged in his skull. Doctors call his survival story “one in a million.”
Caleb Bennett and a friend were fishing on the Manatee River when somehow the anchor wound up lodged in the youngster’s head. “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,” Bennett told ABC Action News in Sarasota, Fla., “I just stayed calm. I told my friend, ‘Hey, you need to call 911 or I’m going to die.”
He was flown to Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Bennett immediately underwent surgery.
“We needed to take out a big piece of skull, try to take out the pieces of bone and whatever else he had in there from the anchor,” Luis Rodriguez, M.D., a pediatric neurological surgeon at Johns Hopkins, told the website.
Caleb’s parents, Kelli and Rick Bennett, were in the Bahamas celebrating their wedding anniversary when they got the call.
“We just heard that there was a boating accident and that an anchor hit him in the head,” Rick Bennett told the local ABC affiliate.
After the surgery, Caleb was put into a medically induced coma so the swelling in his brain could subside. “I thought I was going to be sick,” Kelli said after she first saw him. “It’s very hard to see your kid hooked up to every tube, to see that stand with 12 different medicines going in his body and a neck brace.”
After eight days, things started moving in the right direction. “It looked like we were going to get him back the way we had him before,” Rick said.
Rodriguez said the fact that the anchor didn’t hit any blood vessels in Caleb’s brain was “a miracle,” adding, “I’ve seen arrows go through and through. I’ve seen bullets, but I’ve never seen an anchor, number one. And number two, I’ve never seen anyone with an injury like that walk out of the hospital almost completely neurologically intact.”
Now on his way to a full recovery, Bennett said, “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.”