Soldier’s spine crushed in Colorado Springs training accident
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) ” Doctors remained hopeful Sunday that an Army soldier whose spinal cord was crushed in a training accident last week might fully recover, since his spinal cord was swollen but not severed.
Pvt. Cody Becker, 19, was riding downhill in a convoy of armored vehicles Monday at Fort Carson, Colo., when the Kenosha soldier’s vehicle tumbled end-over-end, his family said.
Becker’s sergeant was sitting in the hatch of the vehicle when the strap from his backpack got caught, trapping him in position. Becker undid the sergeant’s strap and pulled him into the vehicle’s main cabin moments before the rollover, possibly saving the sergeant from serious injury.
But Becker didn’t have time to strap himself down. As the vehicle rolled he was flung around the inside of the cabin.
The impact left Becker’s spine crushed. He was paralyzed from the chest down but still had full movement of his arms.
He was listed in serious condition Sunday night at a Denver hospital after the first of at least two surgeries to stabilize his spine.
The sergeant suffered broken facial bones and a broken jaw, Becker said. A third soldier was thrown from the vehicle and suffered bruises, and a fourth had cuts and chipped teeth.
Army officials did not release the names of the injured soldiers.
Surgeons urged Becker to remain hopeful, saying he may regain the use of his lower body with extensive therapy.
“The doctors said there is just a lot of swelling right now but because the spinal cord wasn’t severed, there is a possibility I will walk,” Becker told the Kenosha News by telephone. “It’s one of those deals where only time will tell, but I have no doubt I will walk again.”
His mother, Cindy Peura, flew to Denver to be by her son’s bedside. She said her son has been in good spirits since the accident.
Family friend Joy Sconzert of Kenosha lauded Becker for his bravery and optimism.
“His mom was so worried about him going to Iraq, and then this happened right here,” she said. “But he told his mom, ‘I’ve got my arms, and I’ve got my brains, and it could have been worse.’ He really deserves recognition for what he did. He’s really amazing.”
Peura said the Army is considering awarding her son the Soldier’s Medal, which is bestowed for heroism not involved in enemy conflict. But Becker downplayed his role in helping his sergeant.
“Um, I don’t feel like a hero,” Becker said. “I just basically did what I was trained to do. It was the right thing to do at the right time.”
Becker had been sent to Fort Carson in January after completing basic training. He is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The training exercise was to prepare for a potential deployment overseas, said Dee McNutt, a Fort Carson public affairs officer. Becker’s unit doesn’t current have orders to deploy but the battalion has regularly rotated duty to the Middle East, and another unit is currently in Iraq.
The Army was investigating the cause of the accident, McNutt said.
“All the commanders at all levels and all of us, our hearts and prayers go out to all the soldiers and their families,” she said. “We’re doing an after-action review and will go over everything so it doesn’t happen again, and so we can mitigate any future problems.”
Becker is married to his high-school sweetheart, 19-year-old Jaclyn Becker of Kenosha. The couple has a 3-year-old daughter, Nevaeh.
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