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Man's wheelchair gets hitched to a big rig

June 08, 2007|From the Associated Press

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Ben Carpenter got the ride of his life when his electric wheelchair became lodged in the grille of a big rig and was accidentally pushed down a highway for several miles at about 50 mph.

Carpenter's father, Donald, was incredulous when police called to tell him his 21-year-old son was OK after the ride.

"I said, 'What happened?' " Donald Carpenter recalled Thursday.

He said his son, who has muscular dystrophy, had started to cross an intersection Wednesday afternoon in Paw Paw, Mich., where the truck had stopped for a red light.

The light changed to green while Carpenter was still in front of the semi, which started moving forward.

The truck bumped into the side of the wheelchair, which then started to turn, its handles becoming lodged in the grille, the father said.

"He's so low that the truck driver couldn't see him, and the truck headed out," he said.

The wheelchair, with Ben Carpenter strapped in it, ended up being pushed by the truck as it drove down the Red Arrow Highway. Police said the wheelchair was pushed about four miles.

The boy's father said being pushed down the road by the truck burned most of the rubber off the tires of the wheelchair.

Ben Carpenter said that during the incident, he seriously considered the possibility that he might not make it before the truck came to a complete halt.

"It was pretty scary," he told WDIV-TV of Detroit.

The bizarre sight caught the attention of motorists, many of whom called 911 on their cellphones.

Two undercover police officers who were driving in the opposite direction saw what was happening, made a U-turn, followed the truck to its business and informed the disbelieving driver, Donald Carpenter said.

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