Tremonton teen injured at Camp Bartlett after fall from tree

Luke Bennett, a 14-year-old Boy Scout from Tremonton, is loaded onto a Medical Service Plane for transport to Primary Children's Medical Center after falling from a tree at Camp Bartlett on June 24, 2017.

TREMONTON — Luke Bennett wanted nothing more next summer than to return to Camp Bartlett. The 14-year-old Tremonton resident has spent the past few weeks working as a volunteer at the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) camp near Montpelier, Idaho, and he has loved his scouting experience.

“His dream was to go up next year as a 15-year-old and work on the staff,” said his grandmother, Anita Bennett. “He earned his Eagle when he was just 13. He’s a student body officer, he was a football player, and he’s wrestled.”

Airlifted to Primary Children’s Medical Center on Saturday, Luke is now wrestling with everything he’s got after having fallen 30-40 feet from a tree.

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“It was a weekend and all the troops had gone home, so the staff had free time for the weekend,” Bennett explained. “He was climbing a tree and pointed out that he was doing all the necessary three-point touches, but he went clear to the top of the tree and then some branches had been diseased or were too small, and so they broke on him and he fell.” 

Following the accident, Luke was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Pocatello, Idaho and was then transported to Salt Lake City on a medical service plane. He underwent a six-hour surgery and is now playing a waiting game to learn what happens next.

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“He shattered a vertebrae in his back and the fragments of the bone were in the spinal cord,” said Bennett, “and so they had to fish them out and then repair that vertebrae and put screws in to hold it in place. And then they put a rod down his back.”

What all this means for Luke right now is that he has no feeling or movement in his legs from mid-calf down. While he can feel sensation in his front thighs, Luke’s older sister, Morgan Capener, said her brother has no feeling from the waist down on the back side of his body.

“His L1 vertebrae exploded into the spinal cord, and swelling has affected L3, L4 and S1,” she said. “They’re hoping as the swelling gets better, hopefully he’ll regain some function.”

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Capener visited her brother Monday afternoon with her young daughters, whom Bennett says Luke often babysits. 

“We went down today because they’re going to try to help him stand, and we wanted to be there,” said Capener. “Obviously, there’s going to have to be a lot of support to help him, but he’s determined. He really wants to walk again, but there are a lot of variables. Being so young is in his favor, and he has such a positive attitude. He says he’ll work as hard as it takes. We’re just trying to be really hopeful, but it’s an uphill battle.”

Bennett said Luke has enjoyed visits from cousins, friends, aunts and uncles and his football coach. The son of Aaron and Chris Bennett, Luke has a family of five siblings, including a twin sister, who haven’t left his side.

“I’m sure he’s going to have a down spot in a few days when it all really sinks in,” his grandmother said, “but for now he is really good spirits. They’re just hoping that as young as he is and as energetic as he is that this will all come back, but they don’t have any promise or any way of knowing.”

The only thing certain today is that Luke Bennett is surrounded by loved ones and a competent medical team.  A <a href=”https://www.gofundme.com/luke-bennett-medical-fund”>GoFundMe</a> account has been established to help the family with expenses as Luke faces the long road ahead.

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“I guess we’re just hoping for a miracle,” Bennett said, with deep emotion evident.  “We want him back to his energetic, lively self.”

Allen Endicott, scout executive with the Trapper Trails Council (of which Camp Bartlett is part) said the director of Camp Bartlett, Mike Lundquist, will meet with his staff to let them know how much their efforts following Luke’s accident were appreciated.

“It was them who notified the EMTs to get Luke the help he needed,” Endicott said. “You never want to hear of an accident like this happening, but we’re sure he’s getting the best care.  Our hearts go out to Luke and his family, and we hope and pray for a speedy recovery for him.”

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jennifer@cvradio.com

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