Fundraiser planned for teen after Bradenton boating accident

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Fourteen-year-old Caleb Bennett loves to be on the water and that may come as surprise after what happened to him several months ago. 

“I shouldn’t be standing here today. God definitely has a plan in my life,” said Caleb Bennett.

Back in March, Bennett was fishing with his brother and some of his friends at the Bradenton Yacht Club when a freak accident almost cost him his life. The boat’s anchor dislodged and, moments later, somehow struck the teen in the head.   

“The anchor had slipped off the boat and it went into the water and was slingshot back into the boat where it penetrated Caleb’s right frontal lobe 2.78 inches,” said Caleb’s mother, Kelli.

The teen’s quick thinking in spite of his injury also contributed to his living to tell his story.

“I didn’t want to pull it out because I thought it might bleed more. Eventually, it fell out and then I put pressure on it and held my head up,” said Bennett. 

Bennett doesn’t remember what happened after that but he was ultimately taken by air ambulance to a local hospital where he underwent immediate brain surgery. That operation included a partial craniotomy.

Bennett was also then placed in a life-saving, medically-induced coma.  

“It’s a real modern-day miracle that I am alive,” said Bennett.  

With two brain surgeries behind him, further surgeries needed and a long road to recovery ahead of him, Caleb is remaining optimistic. 

“I still love fishing, nothing will ever change that,” said Bennett. 

The Manatee County community now plans to honor Bennett’s resilience, fittingly in the same place where he almost lost his life. 

“When the event happened it was hard for everyone to give back, there was only so much food and anything that everyone could do for the family,” said Chris Quattlebaum.   

Quattlebaum tells 8 On Your Side that an Aug. 17 fishing tournament “Hook Em for Caleb” will take place at the Bradenton Yacht Club. All proceeds will go toward the teen’s medical expenses. 

“They love the water, they love fishing, let’s have a fishing tournament and spend the day with them and if people are willing to give back whether it is $5 or $1,000. Let’s give it back to the family for what they do for us, the community and everyone that they know,” said Quattlebaum. 

According to the event’s flyer, the fishing tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. and the weigh-in will be held at 4:30 p.m. The event will feature a first-place prize of $500 and a second-place prize of $250 for snook, trout and redfish with three in-shore divisions. 

The benefit will also feature a silent and live auction with several items, including a vacation package and Buccaneers tickets.  

Caleb and Kelli Bennett gratefully welcome the upcoming benefit as another part of their miracle. 

“We are so thankful for, I call it our people, here in Bradenton that just have surrounded us and loved us,” said Kelli Bennett.  

For more information on the fishing tournament and how you can help the Bennett family, visit “Hook Em for Caleb” on Facebook.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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