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Michigan man in wheelchair takes wild ride with truck

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ben Carpenter, 21, of Kalamazoo, Mich., found his motorized wheelchair stuck to the front grille of this semitrailer truck Wednesday and pushed eastbound on Red Arrow Highway near Paw Paw, Mich., for four miles at 50 mph, authorities said. The young man, reportedly unhurt, was quoted by police as saying, "It was quite a ride."
(Michigan State Police via Kalamazoo Gazette)
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A 21-year-old man got the ride of a lifetime when his electric wheelchair became lodged in the grille of a semitrailer truck and was pushed down a highway for four miles at 50 mph.

Ben Carpenter was unharmed but was taken to a hospital as a precaution. He had been secured to his wheelchair by a seat belt. Carpenter, who has muscular dystrophy, told a television station that he thought he might not make it through the ride.

"I was probably thinking that this is going to keep going and not stop anywhere, 50 or 60 miles somewhere," he told WOOD-TV of Grand Rapids.

Ben Carpenter's father, Donald, said that his son had started to cross at an intersection Wednesday afternoon in Paw Paw, about 140 miles west of Detroit. The light changed to green while his son was in front of a semi, which started moving.

The wheelchair's handles became lodged in the grille, the father said, and the wild ride started.

About 4 p.m. Wednesday, a caller told police dispatchers, "You are not going to believe this: There is a semi truck pushing a guy in a wheelchair on Red Arrow Highway," state police said in a release.

Authorities initially wondered whether the report was a prank call until others called with similar reports.

A pair of undercover police officers who happened to be nearby saw what was happening. They stopped the truck -- wheelchair still attached -- at a trucking company. The driver didn't believe officers until he stepped from his cab and saw for himself.

"When he saw us, he was like, 'What's going on?'" said Sgt. Kathy Morton of the Michigan State Police.

The chair was undamaged except for losing most of the rubber on its wheels, Donald Carpenter said.

"It's a very bad story that ended very well," he said. "We're just thrilled that he's still around."

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