Family and friends are mourning the loss of a 7-year-old St. Paul boy who died Monday from injuries sustained after crashing into a tree while sledding in Houlton, Wis.
Simon Caquelin, a first-grader at Central Lutheran School in St. Paul, was injured just after dark Jan. 27 at the new sledding hill at the Boy Scout camp 8 miles from Stillwater.
He was taken to Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, where his heart stopped, his family said. First responders resuscitated the boy, but he remained in critical condition for 10 days. His family said the injuries were too extensive for him to recover.
“There were thousands of people praying for a miracle through this,” said his father, Matt Caquelin. “Despite the outcome, Simon has been a miracle for seven years. The miracle was in his life.”
Members of his family said they will remember Simon for being an outdoorsy “bundle of light,” full of generosity in life — and in death, with his organs donated to help kids in need. The boy, who had just joined the Cub Scouts last fall, was eagerly anticipating his first overnight camp trip to Fred C. Andersen Scout Camp in Houlton, Wis., with his older brother and Simon’s best friend.
Simon’s classmates and friends rallied for him while he was hospitalized, sporting “Simon Strong” T-shirts with an image of Superman. A GoFundMe site has also raised more than $13,000 for the family.
“Simon was the type of boy that every parent would dream of,” Matt Caquelin said. “The support from all angles ... has been far more extensive than I ever could have imagined.”
Simon is survived by his parents, Matt and Jennifer, and siblings, 13-year-old Sebastian and 11-year-old Savannah. The funeral will take place Thursday at St. Stephanus Lutheran Church in St. Paul.
“Our condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the Caquelin family and friends,” the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement, adding that counseling will be provided to scouts and volunteers. “Our entire Scouting community grieves this tragic loss, and we will support the family and all involved in every way that we can.”
Each year in the U.S., 25,000 children under 15 are admitted to emergency rooms for sledding injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic. But sledding deaths are rare.
In Minnesota, a teen, Katelyn Hank, died in 2014 in a sledding accident in Le Sueur. Two years earlier, a 10-year-old girl from North Carolina died while sledding in Dassel.
While there are no special helmets for sledding, kids can use ski, bicycle or skateboard helmets.
That’s a message the Caquelins are now spreading, hoping it will help prevent another family from going through such heartbreak.
While wearing a helmet may not have prevented his son’s injuries, Matt Caquelin said, “it may have saved his life.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141