Marine Gets Prosthetic Leg Back After Losing It In Lake

Posted at 7:08 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-15 21:55:03-04

A Middle Tennessee Marine who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan was reunited with one of his prosthetic legs last week after losing it on Old Hickory Lake.

Ben Maenza was a Lance Cpl. in the Marines when he stepped on an IED in 2010. The blast left the Nashville native a double amputee. But Ben has not let the injury define his life, completing a number of wheel chair races across the country and continuing to go on with life as it was before the blast.

That's what brought Ben to Old Hickory lake last week. While pulling into the Avendale boat ramp in Hendersonville, he accidentally flipped over. As he flipped, his left prosthetic leg fell off and sank to the bottom of the lake.

"We got lucky though, it was a tough search,"  said Eric Fotenot, a firefighter with the Hendersonville Fire Department who also serves on the dive team.

Fotenot and his partner, Travis Kimmons spent the better part of six hours searching the murky waters for Ben's leg. At the time they didn't know it belonged to an injured Marine.

"The silt and algae is so profound that you literally can’t see your hand in front of your face," Kimmons said about the search in which he could only use his hands to feel across the bottom of the lake.

After about six hours, Kimmons felt what he describes as a large piece of rubber. Cell phone video captured Kimmons cresting the surface of the water with the left leg in his right hand. 

"I went down and felt the metal shaft of the leg and I knew I had something. And I pulled it to my face and saw a foot on the end of it. We found it," he said.

Lance Cpl. Maenza was reunited with his leg last week.

"In the fire department you see a lot of bad things and get a lot of bad calls. When you get a good one like this it really makes your job worth it," Kimmons said.