A Columbia teen who suffered severe burns over most of his body more than a year ago continues to recover at home with his family.
Tyreek Williams was at a gathering with fellow Whitthorne Middle School football players on December 18, 2010 when he poured gasoline on a lit fire pit.
The pit exploded leaving him with third degree burns over 65 percent of his body.
The then 14-year-old was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Williams spent six months there, before being transferred to Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Williams and his mother, Fredricka Walker, talked to Nashville's News 2 on Thursday in their first television interview since the incident.
Walker said her son has had so many surgeries since then that she's lost count.
He wears special compression garments and a plastic mask to protect his skin.
His mother said, “It's bonded us more all of us are becoming a little bit closer, but it's been hard, it's been rough for all of us.”
Then, in December 2011, the family faced a major set back.
A car wreck totaled their only vehicle, and the family has been unable to replace it.
As a result, Williams can't get to therapy twice a week in Columbia, nor his monthly check up in Ohio.
Williams said, “I just keep praying that God will help me be stronger and keep pushing through.”
It is a very different life for the one-time tight end football player.
Yet, it is a life he is determine to live as normally as possible.
In September, the 15-year-old returned to Columbia Central High school full time.
“They were all excited” Williams said of his friends at school when he returned.
He continued, “They were like all around me when I first came back,” he said.
His family remains rooted in their faith. They say through tragedy, life can teach valuable lessons.
Walker said, “Always pray and don't ever give up, and always love your family no matter what.”
Another teen injured along with Tyreek Williams has recovered from his injuries.
If you would like to help with his recovery, donations can be made to the Tyreek Williams Trust Fund at any Regions Bank.
- Dec. 20, 2010: 2 teens burned in gasoline explosion