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NFL player loses fingers in Lincoln County fireworks accident

In this 2005 photo, current NFL player C.J. Wilson carries the ball for Lincolnton High.
In this 2005 photo, current NFL player C.J. Wilson carries the ball for Lincolnton High. Charlotte Observer

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson suffered a severe hand injury in a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July.

The former Lincolnton High School standout lost two fingers on one hand – his index and middle fingers – after fireworks exploded in a canister Wilson was holding.

It’s unclear if or how the injury will impact his professional football career.

“I’m sure it’s in the back of his mind,” his father, Curtis Wilson, Sr., told WBTV. “For me that really doesn’t matter. My son is alive so God took care of him as far as that. I guess we’ll cross that bridge later on down the road.”

My son is alive so God took care of him as far as that

Curtis Wilson Sr.

Mr. Wilson said his son was with a group at a friend’s house in Lincolnton the night of the Fourth.

“Having fun with fireworks,” Wilson Sr. said. “I’m not sure where they purchased it from, exactly what nature it was, but had one explode while he was holding it in his hand.”

Mr. Wilson said he was not with his son when the accident happened, but he was told CJ “was pretty much holding the canister – not trying to hold the fireworks – but the canister that it was supposed to pop out of... well it didn’t pop. It exploded inside the canister.”

WBTV checked with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Lincolnton Police Department but neither agency received an emergency call for the fireworks accident.

Mr. Wilson said that his son’s friends “put him in a vehicle and took him to the (local) hospital.”

Lt William Brooks of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were called to CHS Hospital in Boger City because someone was causing a disturbance.

According to Lt Brooks, “someone was who with C.J. Wilson was apparently upset about the injury and punched a hole in the EMS bay.”

That individual was not charged.

Boger City Firefighters were also called to the hospital, which is across the street from the fire station.

Fire Chief Mitch Burgin told WBTV “there was a smoldering pair of pants in the trunk of the car that brought CJ to the hospital.”

Chief Burgin said emergency personnel used fire extinguishers to put out the fire, which he described as very small.

Burgin said emergency personnel called fire fighters as a precaution and when fire fighters arrived – the fire was out.

According to Chief Burgin, fire fighters took the pants out of the trunk and doused it with some water.

Burgin said he has no idea how the small fire in the trunk started.

C.J Wilson was later taken to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte where he’s had two surgeries so far. His father said the most recent operation was Wednesday afternoon when doctors were reportedly checking for circulation and tendon issues.

“C.J. is doing great. He has a lot of family and friends around him, lots of people coming to send up their prayers. He’s doing good right now,” his father said. “He’s on pain killers. A little bit of pain medicine has him down a little bit but when that wears off – he’s the same old C.J. joking and kidding.”

C.J. Wilson graduated from Lincolnton High School in 2008, and went on to play football at NC State. He played the 2013 season with the Chicago Bears and joined the Bucs for the 2014 season.

His father said he doesn’t know if C.J. has spoken with anyone from the Bucs organization.

The team released a statement saying “We are aware that C.J. was involved in an accident that occurred over the July 4th holiday. It is our understanding that the injury occurred to one of his hands and our primary concern at this moment is for his long-term health. We have been in contact with C.J. and are continuing to monitor the situation.”

Meanwhile, family and friends are surrounding C.J. in the hospital.

“My son is still living,” his father said. “We just have to take it one day at a time.”

WBTV is a news partner of The Charlotte Observer.

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