Family remembers son with big heart

Ben Maxwell was a special soul.

He's been described as artistic, compassionate, the peacemaker, a hard worker and a "real go-getter" with a "spirit ready to fly."

Sunday's news of Maxwell's body being found in the Carson River in Dayton ended a weeklong search and shattered a family's hope that maybe -- just maybe -- the 19-year-old Dayton man had made it ashore and was awaiting rescue.

"Reality has set in," said his mother, Kathryn Parshley, on Monday. "I had hopes that Ben would be someplace, and he'd come knock on the door and say 'Hi, Mom,' Then I'd tell him he's grounded. I'd hug him first, and then he's grounded."

"A lot of my friends had that optimism," his father, Craig Maxwell, said. "I could feel he was gone."

On June 2, Maxwell, swimming with friends at the Carson River 5.7 miles from Highway 50 East on Fort Churchill Road, disappeared under the murky, fast-moving current.

An exhaustive search by Lyon County Sheriff's Department deputies and Search and Rescue yielded no clues until Sunday when searchers on a boat found his body four miles from where he was last seen.

With Maxwell's death, there will be no fifth generation of Maxwells in Nevada, said his father.

"Ben was my only son, my only relative," Craig Maxwell said quietly. "This wiped my family out."

Born July 17, 1983, in Carson City, Ben Maxwell spent his life in the area.

His mother raised him until he was 6 then he lived with his father.

The two were inseparable -- Max, as friends call Craig Maxwell, and his blue-eyed son.

At nearly 18, Ben Maxwell moved to Dayton to live with his mother, stepfather Cap Parshley and two stepbrothers.

He had just finished work on an off-road Baja Volkswagen. Only two weeks ago, his mother measured a jump he made in it at 175 feet.

Kathryn Parshley finds comfort in knowing her son's last meal was the strawberries and peanut-butter crackers she'd made him eat before he left to go to the river with his brother, Chris Reynolds; and friends Jesse Wickware and Sarah Fraser.

On Monday, she finally took off one of Ben's shirts she'd been wearing since he went missing.

Craig Maxwell walks around on automatic pilot, friends say, and is prone to tears.

A few nights ago, Craig Maxwell said, friends went to the river and laid stuffed animals on the bank closest to where Ben Maxwell was last seen. In the midst of the impromptu ceremony, the wind picked up, and lightning started. It began to rain.

"It was crying on us," Craig Maxwell said.

Ben Maxwell is survived by his parents; stepfather; brother; stepbrothers Jared and Chris Parshley; sister-in-law, Rachel Reynolds; niece, Krysti Lynn Reynolds; uncle, Rick Cave; and grandparents Don and Pat Cave.

No funeral arrangements have been made yet.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment