Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Staff Report
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Family, community mourn as Pine County deputy goes on hospice

 

January 9, 2020



After a months-long battle to recover his health, including brain surgery, Pine County Deputy Ben Neel was expected to enter hospice care on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

A lifelong resident of Pine County, Neel is a graduate of Hinckley-Finlayson High School and joined the Pine County Sheriff’s Office in 2003 after studying law enforcement at Hibbing Community College.

In 2006, Neel became a member of the Pine County SWAT team, and also became a trainer for firearms, taser and search and rescue. As a Pine County deputy, Neel served as the school resource officer position for Hinckley-Finlayson High School from 2013-15.

In 2016, Neel became a K9 handler for Chewy, who is also a member of the SWAT team. Through many criminal apprehensions, searches, and narcotics detections, these partners became inseparable.

Through the Pine County Sheriff’s Office, Neel met Jennifer, a co-worker who would become the love of his life. Together they made a home in Pine County with their four children: William, Owen, Gabriel, and Hunter.

On Oct. 25, Neel was hunting in South Dakota. That morning as he walked into breakfast he stated he didn’t feel good; he then collapsed with what appeared to be a seizure. At the hospital, doctors found a mass on his brain. After multiple tests it was determined that Neel had two tumors that would require extensive operations to remove.

Neel underwent surgery on Dec. 11 to remove one tumor behind his right eye. This surgery lasted more than seven hours.

On Dec. 15, Neel’s family reported that he had suffered a brain bleed as a complication of his surgery and was not stabilizing. The family continued to update well-wishers over the following days, letting them know that Neel seemed to be responsive but had not regained consciousness.

However, by Dec. 31, doctors determined that the brain bleed had caused irrevocable damage.

“They have done everything that medicine can do, but the damage from the stroke was too much,” the family wrote on their Facebook page. “Ben will not be able to recover.”

Hospice care was scheduled to begin on Jan. 8.

“Please respect and give the family, SWAT team, and all his law enforcement family at Pine County Sheriff’s Office the time they need to process this,” the family wrote. “Please continue to lift Jennifer and the boys, the family, and all his partners in prayer. We love him and will miss him terribly.”

The Pine County Sheriff’s Office posted the link to the message from Neel’s family on their Facebook page.

“Our office is heartbroken to share this news,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “Please keep Ben’s family in your thoughts and prayers.”

A GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com/f/ben-neel-family-fund) has been set up for the family of Deputy Ben Neel. So far, nearly 600 people have donated over $30,000 to support Neel’s family.

A fund has also been set up at Frandsen Bank and Trust (Neel Family Fund, 560 3rd Ave SE, Pine City, MN 55063).

 

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