OCEAN CITY – The Fourth of July holiday weekend was marred when a Baltimore teen suffered a significant neck and spinal cord injury in the surf.
On July 4, Ben Paepcke, a 2018 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, was body-surfing with his friends in front of a lifeguard stand when he dove under and did not come up, according to a Go Fund Me page set up in his name by his family. Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguards immediately assessed the situation and rushed into the water to rescue Paepke.
Other OCBP lifeguards in the area also responded and assisted in stabilizing Paepcke’s neck and back. Once stabilized, Paepcke was transported from the beach. At the hospital, it was discovered Paepcke had broken his neck at C5 and suffered a spinal cord injury. Once he was stabilized, Paepke was transported to Shock Trauma in Baltimore where he was undergoing testing and preparing for multiple surgeries.
According to the family’s Go Fund Me site, the OCBP lifeguards on the scene performed the rescue with their usual aplomb and compassion.
“The lifeguard made the family aware that Ben was a strong young man and a fighter and that he was able to keep it together the entire time,” the update following the incident reads. “Ben was able to talk and answer all questions. He is surrounded by loving family and friends. We are asking for your assistance to help the family with impending medical and unforeseen expenses for Ben’s care.”
By Tuesday morning, the “Prayers for Pap” page had already raised nearly $41,000 of the stated $200,000 goal in just three days. An update provided on Tuesday stated Paepke had a steady stream of visitors including family, friends, classmates and teammates over the few days following the incident and that he was dealing with some health-related issues and resting before embarking on the road to recovery.
“The entire trauma staff caring for him has been tirelessly helping him through this tough time,” the update shared by his mother on Tuesday reads. “Benjamin and our whole family are so blessed with so much love, prayer, comforting well-wishes and outpouring of generosity. Please pray hard. We feel them.”