SANDY — Nearly 18 months ago, Pete Benda, a freshman at Juan Diego Catholic High School, fell 30 feet while getting lights ready for a theater production.
The 15-year-old suffered a severely broken femur and a traumatic brain injury.
At first, Pete's family was told he may never wake up from a coma. Today, he's not only surviving, he's thriving.
Pete joked around with his parents Monday as he cooked some eggs in their Sandy home.
“I’m the 0.5 percent,” he said.
“We say Pete’s our miracle,” said his mother, Chris Benda.
After Pete's accident Oct. 26, 2012, he was taken to a hospital for 2 ½ weeks. But when they started talking about nursing homes, they moved him to Primary Children’s Hospital, which has a neurorehabilitation unit on the second floor.
"We say the first hospital saved his life, but Primary Children’s saved our boy,” Chris Benda said.
She was told 90 percent of people with his type of traumatic brain injury remain in a vegetative state.
“He came out of his coma Jan. 6 and started talking," she said.
Pete was there 111 days.
“I met so many good people at Primary’s," he said. "I love that place."
“Pete always said he was the mayor of the second floor,” his mother added.
Chris Benda also said the prayers of a community pulled him through.
“People of every denomination, every faith were praying for Pete," she explained.
“Prayer does work," he said.
Pete still faces some challenges and continues therapy and treatment, but he is now back at Juan Diego for his sophomore year with the help of an aide. He also is on the lacrosse team.
“Everything happens for a reason, and I am not going to change that," he said. "Even if I had the power to go back and reset it, I would not because it just makes who I am.”
Pete and his family remain close with the doctors and nurses who saved him.
“They are our family," Chris Benda said. "They are there to support us, even after leaving the hospital.”
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company