Lawyer: hospital visit Friday will shed light on severity of injury after Webster Groves student lost finger at school

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 6:09 PM CDT
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WEBSTER GROVES (KMOV) - It’s been three days since a terrifying accident at a Webster Groves elementary school where a 9-year-old boy cut off his finger. His family is still left with unanswered questions.

“I mean we’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened,” said Tim Engelmeyer.

Engelmeyer is Talisa Pierce’s attorney and friend. Pierce says her son, DJ Williams, lost his middle finger on his right hand during a fall while in class at Bristol Elementary School.

“On Monday afternoon, somewhere around [2-2:20 p.m.], DJ had tripped and in the course of this fall, his hand became lodged or sliced on a very sharp edge of a computer cabinet/filing cabinet,” said Engelmeyer. “Part of the finger was removed from the hand during the fall, and it remained on the filing cabinet.”

The family says the school did not call 911 after the incident happened, and they still do not know why.

“Any chances there were to re-attach the part of the finger that was lost, those chances kind of went out the window when emergency, 911 wasn’t called,” said Engelmeyer.

Engelmeyer says the family also did not know about the extent of the incident when the school called Pierce.

“At some point DJ was taken to the nurse’s office. We’re still trying to figure out exactly the process, but eventually DJ was picked up by his grandpa at the end of the school day with all other parents picking up their children,” said Engelmeyer. “The grandpa was told that DJ had a gash to his finger. Well, it was significantly more than just a gash. It was an amputation of the finger.”

Engelmeyer added, “DJ came out to the grandpa’s car with his hand wrapped. And that’s when grandpa first sensed the severity of the injury. When it was unwrapped at urgent care, he really didn’t have any idea how bad it was.”

DJ eventually ended up in the hospital at St. Louis Children’s.

“He asked the doctor, ‘when is my finger gonna grow back,’ which kind of tugs at your heart a little bit,” said Engelmeyer.

Despite the incident, DJ remains in good spirits, though he is also wondering how this could happen to him.

“[He is a] very athletic, very rambunctious, energetic, wonderful wonderful little boy,” said Engelmeyer. “Loves basketball, loves all sports.”

Yet, his family fears he may now lose his entire hand from the severity of the injury.

“The family was told at the initial consultation that there’s a chance that he could lose more than just his finger, which alarmed them obviously,” said Engelmeyer. “I think that will be addressed tomorrow when they go to Children’s Hospital, and they take a look at it. We’re hoping and praying the damage is done and there’s no further issues with his hand.”

News 4 asked Engelmeyer if there are any plans to issue a lawsuit against the school district at this time.

“We’ll evaluate everything as things progress. But to answer your question, right now we’ve not discussed a lawsuit in detail,” said Engelmeyer.

Right now, Engelmeyer says his focus is helping the family get answers while they focus on helping their son recover.

“I did send a simple letter over to the district today, just asking them to protect or secure video and other communications from that day,” said Engelmeyer.

The district declined to comment about the incident on camera but said it is investigating the incident. In a statement issued earlier this week, the district said the following:

“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.”

On Thursday afternoon, Engelmeyer told News 4 the school called DJ’s family and she went to pick up his finger, which was still at the school. She plans to bring it to the hospital when they visit Friday.

On Friday, the family’s lawyer told News 4 that DJ’s recovery was going well and doctors said he could go back to school on Monday.

The district will be working with DJ to help him in class since he’s unable to write or type using his hand.