Seven-year-old dies after sledding accident at Boy Scout camp

Matthew Caquelin of St. Paul was still in shock as he sat inside the St. Stephanus Lutheran Church lobby Monday, just minutes after making funeral arrangements for his youngest son, Simon.

It was a tragic end to a heartbreaking week for his family, who had spent most of the week at Gillette Children's hospital in St. Paul watching over Simon as he fought for his life after a Jan. 27 sledding accident.

“There’s a million unanswered questions and I may never have the answer to them,” he said, shaking his head. "It's the most horrible experience I could imagine."

Simon was only at the Fred C. Andersen Boy Scout camp in Houlton, Wis., for one night when his family received the devastating news that there had been an accident. They were at a basketball tournament in Mankato, cheering on their two other children when the call came through.

No one was there to see exactly what happened that night, but investigators for the most part were able to piece together a series of events--seven-year-old Simon had gone sledding, authorities believe, at some point veering off the hill and striking a tree head-on without a helmet. He spent seven days fighting for his life at Gillette Children's Hospital in St. Paul, and took his last breath just after 4 a.m. Monday.

“There’s a lot of people that were praying for miracles to take place in this whole thing," Matthew Caquelin said. “His body was still functioning in some ways, but he wasn’t making it.”

The silver lining for Matthew, his wife Jennifer and Simon's two older siblings, however, lies in the fact that he was able to donate his organs. So far, they say he's helped save at least four lives, with a flag currently flying outside the hospital in his honor.

"I would love for everybody to realize that we had our miracle for seven years," Matthew Caquelin said. "He was an angel that was devoting time to us--and that miracle did happen."

Simon's family described him as a budding outdoorsman, a true Minnesotan who had never been camping alone or sledding at night before. He had only been a member of the Boy Scouts for several months before the accident, though Simon's family says the organization has been incredibly supportive throughout the entire ordeal. 

The Caquelin family is hosting a funeral service for Simon Thursday at St. Stephanus Lutheran Church in St. Paul, with a visitation starting at 4 p.m. A CaringBridge page has been also set up for the family, which you can find here.