Pine City, MN – Pine County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Deputy Benjamin “Ben” Neel died on Jan. 8 after suffering a massive stroke associated with a brain tumor surgery.
Deputy Neel, 37, was on a hunting trip in South Dakota on Oct. 25, 2019, when he suddenly began feeling ill, according to his obituary.
He abruptly collapsed and appeared to suffer a seizure, so he was rushed to a local hospital.
“After multiple tests and doctor’s appointments, it was determined that he had two tumors that would require extensive operations,” his obituary read. “Ben underwent his first surgery on December 11, 2019 to remove one tumor behind his right eye. This surgery lasted about 7 ½ hours.”
Before Deputy Neel was healed enough to endure the surgery to remove the second tumor, he suffered a “massive brain stem stroke as a complication” of his initial surgery, according to his obituary.
“They had done everything that medicine could do, but the damage from the stroke was too much,” the tribute read.
Deputy Neel, an organ donor, passed away at 7:40 p.m. on Jan. 8.
“My husband gained his wings...he is with our Lord,” his widow, Jennifer Neel, wrote in his obituary. “He was at peace...he was loved and we will be together again soon... I love you till my last breath, my soulmate, my heart, my guardian angel.”
Deputy Neel, a lifelong Pine County resident, joined the PCSO in August of 2003.
“To say our office is sad is an understatement,” the department said in a Facebook post on Jan. 9. “Deputy Neel was a great deputy and man overall. He was everyone's best friend. This isn't goodbye, we will see you again. We love you Benny.”
In addition to his duties as a deputy, he also served as a SWAT operator, school resource officer, search and rescue trainer, and Taser and firearms trainer, according to his obituary.
In 2016, Deputy Neel became a handler for K9 Chewy, who is also a member of the PCSO SWAT team.
“Through many criminal apprehensions, searches, and narcotics detections, these partners were inseparable,” his obituary read.
In addition to his wife, Deputy Neel also leaves behind his four sons, William, Owen, Gabriel, and Hunter, as well as his father, siblings, in-laws, and his PCSO family.
Deputy Neel will be laid to rest on Saturday.
A fundraising account established to help cover his medical and funeral costs has raised over $40,300 so far.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Pine County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Benjamin “Ben” Neel, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.