Hinckley teen paralyzed after saving girlfriend in ATV accident

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A 16-year-old Hinckley athlete who was paralyzed while saving his girlfriend from an ATV accident underwent an eight-hour surgery Monday, FOX 9 reports.

Joshua Benson and his girlfriend, Kelly McFarland, were traveling at about 30 mph on the ATV Saturday when the right suspension locked. Benson managed to push his girlfriend off the machine to safety but according to family members was unable to get himself off the 700-pound vehicle before it crashed, FOX 9 reports.

Benson's family called the crash, which severed his spinal cord, "a freak accident," adding Benson has been "riding for years" and "wasn't messing around," FOX 9 says. Doctors told Benson's mother he'll probably never walk again.

The teen, who will be a junior at Hinckley-Finlayson High School this year, was a running back on the high school football team.

People who wish to help Benson's family defray medical expenses can donate to the Joshua Benson Benefit Fund at any TCF Bank branch.

In addition, a CaringBridge page has been set up to follow Benson's recovery. In a post on the site Monday, a person wrote that doctors said the surgery went as planned.

According to national statistics compiled by ATV.gov, three- and four-wheeler accidents have been on the decline in recent years.

Citing statistics from 1985 to 2011, the number of fatalities and emergency room-treated injuries due to ATV accidents have steadily dropped from 2007 to 2011.

In 2011, 327 ATV-related deaths were reported in addition to 107,500 emergency room-treated injuries – a steep drop from 2010 when 590 deaths were reported with an estimated 115,000 emergency room injuries.

According to the site, 238 people have reportedly died in Minnesota in ATV-related accidents from 1982-2011.

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