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More surgeries ahead for 14-year-old Woodleaf teen accidentally shot

By Shavonne Walker

The mother of a 14-year-old who was accidentally shot in the abdomen by his best friend says her son has more surgeries ahead of him.

Regana Hawkins was in Salisbury on Wednesday when she received the news by phone that her son, Caleb Reep, was being flown to a Winston-Salem hospital after he was shot while hanging out at his friend’s Needmore Road home.

The incident occurred Wednesday morning around 11 a.m. when the boys went outside to shoot the gun. Caleb’s friend, James Keith, tried to lower the hammer in a de-cocked position and as he did he let go of the hammer about halfway down. The shotgun accidentally discharged, Rowan authorities have said.

The teen, who is a freshman at West Rowan High School, was flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center the day of the accident and immediately rushed into surgery. The surgery, which is at least one of three he will need, required the removal of parts of his small and large intestine.

Doctors also removed his appendix and cleaned the gunshot wound. His appendix wasn’t injured during the shooting, but doctors removed it so the Caleb would not have to remove it later`, Hawkins explained.

“The doctors said it’s healing very well. He goes on Monday for a third surgery,” she said.

The third surgery will be to close the original surgery wound. His second surgery was on Friday.

“He’s doing well today. He is doing really good,” Hawkins said on Friday.

Doctors told Hawkins that Caleb may have a minimum of a week stay at the hospital, but it all depends on how his intestines respond.

She said essentially his organs are asleep and once awake then doctors can determine his progress. He remains in stable condition.

Friday was the first time the family has been able to really talk with Caleb and he’s been able to understand them.

“He was highly sedated the whole time,” Hawkins said.

Caleb is now awake, but on Wednesday Hawkins received the shock of her life when she was told about Caleb’s accident.

Her brother called to inform her that a Rowan County Sheriff’s deputy would be contacting her about Caleb who was in an accident.

Hawkins was told her son was being flown by helicopter to the hospital. Initially, Hawkins said she thought he’d been involved in a car accident. The deputy told her Caleb had been shot in the abdomen, was conscious, alert and talking.

Hawkins’ brother and father quickly rushed to be by Caleb’s side.

Caleb, who lives about two miles from where the accident took place, has been best friends with James for a long time and the two are as close as brothers, Hawkins said.

“They are always together,” she said.

Hawkins said Caleb has been raised around guns, is comfortable with guns and has taken gun safety courses. Caleb enjoys outdoor sports including hunting, fishing and riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers. James and Caleb have even hunted together.

“This was a freak accident,” she declared.

The family holds no animosity toward James nor his mother, Rebecca Cranford, who was issued a citation for not properly securing the firearm.

In fact, Hawkins said, her family would prefer if the charges against Cranford were dismissed. She asked for prayers for James because “he is having a hard time with everything.”

Hawkins said she’s very appreciative of the responders who arrived quickly to care for her son including the Woodleaf, Scotch Irish and Cleveland fire departments.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.



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