WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — If it wasn’t for the sling DJ Williams is wearing, you likely wouldn’t be able to tell the 9-year-old just had his finger amputated. The bright-eyed and strong kid with dreams of playing professional basketball is staying positive.
“I just got to think about basketball. If I think about it enough, then I won’t give up,” DJ said.
The young boy said on Monday, inside his Bristol Elementary School classroom, he tripped over his backpack and fell onto a metal cart. The family and attorney said they believe this was the timeline:
- The incident happened between 2:00 and 2:20 p.m.
- The school called DJ’s family around 2:48 p.m. and told them DJ had a “gash” on his finger. The family said the school asked for his grandpa, Larry Pierce, to pick DJ up at the front of the school instead of around the corner like usual.
- The school day ended at 2:55 p.m.
Larry was in the line when school was dismissed, and DJ came out with his hand wrapped. Pierce said the school told them to go to urgent care. They went to urgent care, and when the medical professionals unwrapped DJ’s hand, he was missing part of his finger, and told them to go to the emergency room.
After a visit to Missouri Baptist, they were sent by ambulance to Children’s Hospital for an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in pediatrics.
“They amputated his right middle finger,” said Dj’s mom, Talisa Pierce.
Talisa is a pediatric nurse and said even though she sees patients all day, it was extremely difficult to see her son as the patient.
“I’ve seen the pictures, and there is clearly a finger stuck on a file cabinet that came from a 9-year-old’s hand, and to the best of our knowledge, there was no emergency. There was no ambulance. There was no transport to a medical facility immediately, which I think any parent would expect,” said attorney Tim Engelmeyer.
He said he has known the Pierce family for 20 years and is now representing them. He said three days after the incident, they still have a lot of questions.
“One of the big questions is: Why wasn’t 911 called immediately?” Engelmeyer asked.
According to City Protect, which is a platform the Webster Groves Police Department uses on its website to show crime reports, a 911 call to Bristol Elementary School does not appear on the log for Monday.
“Anytime someone loses a part of their body, a digit, a finger, timing is incredibly important specially to try to save it,” Engelmeyer said. “This is the type of injury, and he should have been transported immediately.”
DJ’s mom said the trauma may be so severe that DJ could lose his entire right hand. She said there are also concerns about infection because DJ’s hand was losing color, which could result in a full hand amputation.
Engelmeyer said the family has still not heard from the school.
“That’s not unusual entirely,” he said. “This just happened on Monday, and I’m sure they are still in the process of trying to gather information internally.”
FOX 2’s request for an interview with the district was denied Wednesday, and they would not answer our questions regarding protocol of calling 911 at the school. The district said it could not comment any further and has only released this statement:
Webster Groves School District is aware of reports of an accident, a fall, that occurred at Bristol Elementary School on Monday, April 18, 2022, that may have resulted in injury to a student requiring medical attention. The District is always concerned for and committed to the health and safety of its students and is currently investigating the accident in question. However, due to confidentiality obligations imposed by federal law (FERPA), Webster Groves School District is unable to disclose any information regarding the accident or the condition of the student and is, thus, unable to comment further on the matter at this time.