By Craig Hoffman
(LOUISVILLE, June 4th, 2004, 9 p.m.) -- It's a story of life and near death, one you might normally see in the movies. Oldham County's Chris Bennett is out of the hospital and on the road to recovery after a car wreck left him stranded in the woods with no one but himself to turn to for help. Bennett recently shared his story with our Craig Hoffman.
He's in pain, but Chris Bennett is thankful to be back home. "Right here, where my hip connects to my leg, that is where I feel the most pain."
Bennett was back home in Oldham County Friday after a near fatal brush with death. "There were many times I just said, 'they're not going to find me, I'm going to die, I'm going to die down here, they're not going to find me.'"
The 19-year-old left the hospital Thursday after suffering a bruised pancreas and dislocated hip.
Bennett says he went off the road about 2 a.m. during the storms on Thursday, May 27, when he swerved to avoid an oncoming car on Kentucky 1694. "I was trying to stay on the road, get around them. My tire went off the road, and it just shot me off the road. There was no fighting the wheel, it was off the road, and then chaos."
His car tumbled 160 feet down an embankment. For three days, Bennett was alone in the woods, barely able to move. "I knew if I just started thinking that I wasn't going to be found, I would lose all desire to get out of there," Bennett recalls.
Battered, bleeding, and bruised, the former South Oldham High School football linebacker crawled 200 yards through brush and trees. "I couldn't move (at first)," he says. "I was like, 'survive long enough for them to find you ... I had to drill that in my head ... you have to get out of here. No matter how bad it hurts, you got to get out of here."
Bennett says he fought the elements, hunger, and being alone, but never lost hope. "It was just the climbing, keeping myself going, keeping the energy ... you can't stop now. You got to keep going, can't lay down and take a nap. You got to go, keep pushing."
By Sunday, Bennett reached the highway. He tried to flag down two passing cars, but they wouldn't stop. Then he says "I just threw myself onto the road."
Covered in mud, Bennett was unsure if anyone could see him. Weak and weary, he waited. "I don't think the first couple of people saw me. I wondered would I stop if I actually did see someone like me on the road."
Finally, a driver stopped. "I was like, 'I got into a wreck, I've been down in the creek for three days, can you call ambulance?' He goes, 'oh God!'"
Bennett may eventually require surgery to repair his hip and leg. Right now he is resting, trying to build strength. A number of national broadcast outlets and shows have called, all wanting to tell his survival story.
Chris's father, Mark Bennett, knows he almost lost the middle of his three sons. He's grateful to the unknown motorists who helped until paramedics arrived. "Thanks for helping save my son," he said. "Maybe we say 'thanks' too much and don't mean it. 'Thanks' means a lot. When I say thanks, I mean it."
Online Reporter: Craig Hoffman