Wills Point captain learns from near death experience - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Wills Point captain learns from near death experience

WILLS POINT, TX (KLTV) - It's only practice, but watching their son Ranger, Tolvia and Kathy Wilcoxson never take a play for granted.

"I really don't think there's been a day that his mom or I have not thought about it in four years," said Tolvia Wilcoxson.

Four years ago the Wilcoxson family had joined the Wills Point junior high football team at a nearby coach's home for a night of fun and games. Playing pool with his teammates, Ranger Wilcoxson nearly lost his life.

"We started hearing a shot and then couple of bullets hitting the barn," said Tolvia. "A couple of kids ran out and said he's shot, he's shot."

"I remember looking down at it," Ranger Wilcoxson said of his wound. "It felt like getting hit by a paint ball and then being held under water. I remember that much."

Ranger was hit by a .223 cal stray bullet, shot from the distance. Fortunately for Ranger, his father was a Dallas firefighter for more than 30 years with pre-hospital medical training.

"I've never seen him so calm," Ranger recalled of his dad. "He walked in and went straight to work."

"Being calm, you're a lot more productive," said Tolvia. "When I knelt down over him I had my hand on his wrist checking his pulse and felt it fade away.

According to Wilcoxson, his son was clinically dead for more than three minutes. Thanks to continued CPR from his father and coach, Ranger was brought back and rushed to Parkland Hospital.

"My left lung was collapsed," said Ranger. " I had to go through the chest tube process. Anybody that's had chest tubes, you know what kind of pain that is."

After a three hour surgery, doctors said Ranger would be fine, but that football was not in his immediate future.

"They told me it would be years before I ever played football again," said Ranger.

Ranger refused to listen. A month later he was working out. Several months later he was back on the field.

"Every day I would progressively take walks outside, get some of the sun," said Ranger. "Build my strength up, go to practice and watch. I played that season."

A little more than four years later, Ranger is a captain and leader for the Wills Point football team, and expects to live out his dream of playing division-one college football.

"When you have a set back and you really want to do something you're motivated to do it," said Tolvia Wilcoxson. "I just don't see anything standing in his way."

The Wills Point senior will live with a scar the rest of his life and the bullet remains in his body. They are a constant reminder of what he nearly lost.

"The bullet reminds you of how precious life is," said Ranger. "Take advantage of everyday like it's your last. It taught me things aren't always going to go your way. If things aren't going to go your way, the best thing is to do is keep steadfast, keep your head up and keep fighting."

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