(credit: Tarrant County Sheriff's Office)

(credit: Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office)

TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – The man who carjacked a mother, dragged her from her own car and then ran her over has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Benjamin Rowell, 34, of Mansfield, pleaded guilty to the crime that left Nina Cherry with life-threatening injuries, including a crushed pelvis, a head injury, and severe skin scrapes.  Initially, doctors told Cherry’s family that she might not survive, but nine months, 19 surgeries and five skin graphs later she was finally able to leave the hospital.

Prosecutors say Cherry was sitting in her van outside Pantego Christian Academy on May 7, 2012, waiting for her son to finish football practice.  Rowell opened her door, pulled her out of her car and sped off.  Cherry’s clothes were caught in the door, and she was dragged 100 yards before she fell to the ground.  Rowell then ran her over.  Police were able to track Rowell down using a tracking device on Cherry’s van.

CBS 11 interviewed Cherry one year after the carjacking.  At that time, she was still using a walker and still had a cast on her foot.  She told CBS 11’s Brian New that being alive was a “miracle,” and that she “instantly knew something was very wrong,” when Rowell approached her car.

She said she didn’t remember much after that. “He must have pulled me out and hit my head because I don’t remember anything after that at all – thank God.”

As for her recovery, Cherry said, “I’m doing real well.  I’ve improved a lot throughout the year.”

“Nina Cherry was just doing what mothers do, what any of us would do for a child or someone we loved,” said Prosecutor Amy Collum. “Because of the senseless actions of this defendant, she remains unable to walk on her own, her children were deprived of her care for nearly a year, and her entire family has suffered immeasurably.”

Rowell was sentenced to 35 years for aggravated robbery and 10 years for evading arrest.  The two sentences will run concurrently and he will be eligible for parole after 17 ½ years.

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