Ben was born and raised in Rochester, NY, where his father Jeff taught at a local college and his mother Lisa was a homemaker. He had one sibling, his sister Laurel, who was four years older and finished a master's program at the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 2009.
Ben was born three months prematurely on March 6, 1989, and weighed 2 lbs 3 oz. He gained weight rapidly, and was able to go home after seven weeks in the hospital. He did not have any health problems resulting from the early birth.
He attended elementary and middle schools in the Brighton school system, but attended a private school, McQuaid Jesuit, for high school.
Ben was an excellent student who loved learning. He graduated from high school in 2007 with a grade point average of 91, and he had an extremely high SAT score. He planned to major in history at William & Mary, and perhaps become a history teacher, or go into law.During summers, he attended various camps in Colorado and Minnesota, an educational program in Massachusetts, and a service program in Connecticut. He also taught swimming to inner city children, and during the summer prior to entering college worked in his father’s marketing research business.
He loved fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragons, reading about current events, and reading fantasy novels. He was also a big fan of The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Although often quiet and introspective, he liked to tease as a way of showing his affection. As one of his classmates said, “He was infamous for his sarcasm and wit but underneath it all you knew he had a heart of gold.” He was kind to everyone and loved animals, especially the family’s boxer dogs.
Ben was passionate about the sport of fencing, which he took up when he was 11 years old. He had been looking for a sport at which he could excel, and was delighted to have found fencing. He trained at the highly regarded Rochester Fencing Center and became good friends with many of the other fencers. He traveled extensively to tournaments around the country. He was a skilled fencer, and once won a tournament in Montreal. He applied to only colleges that had fencing teams. He was thrilled to be on the William and Mary fencing team, where as a freshman he was one of the best foil fencers, and was teaching others, a role he relished.
Ben was very happy at William and Mary. He came to the school with a high level of enthusiasm about the college experience, and he seemed to be thriving. In addition to his enjoyment of the fencing club, he liked his classes and was doing well in all of them. He was making friends, and was enjoying the opportunity for personal growth that comes with the college experience.
On November 10, 2007, Ben left with his other teammates for a fencing tournament in Philadelphia. Near Richmond, VA, while traveling at approximately 70 mph, the car left the highway and crashed head-on into a tree. The driver, who was the team's 86 year old coach, was killed immediately. Thanks to the efforts of the emergency medical team, Ben survived this horrible crash but in very critical condition. He remained unconscious for two and one-half weeks before passing away on November 27, 2007. As Ben would have wished, his organs and tissues were made available for transplant. Two other teammates were also injured in the crash, one seriously, but both recovered.