CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — It was supposed to be a sweet moment, a milestone in 3-year-old Carson Brown’s life.
Instead, a Little League Tee Ball game on Sept. 6 turned into a moment that would change Chelsey Brown’s life forever. And not for the better.
It was her first time at St. Bethlehem Civitan Park, and as she cheered on the little “Lake Monsters,” her right hand gripped the top rail of the fence around the stands where she was sitting.
As she went to get down, the unthinkable happened.
“When I hopped down, my wedding ring got caught on this little piece of metal sticking out here, so when I hopped down my finger did not come with me,” she said. “It was hanging up there … I looked down and it was just gone.”
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A family friend grabbed Brown’s finger from the fence, and her husband raced her to nearby Tennova Healthcare, where she was put on a LifeFlight helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Because of damage to the tendon, blood vessels and nerves, a hand specialist told her there was no way to reconnect her finger, and they had to amputate most of it.
With the amount of blood she saw, she worried at first that she would bleed out and die, so even when she lost her finger, she felt blessed that it wasn’t worse.
She’s still having to go through physical therapy and learning to deal with the loss. As a bank teller, she was used to using all 10 fingers and now has only nine.
Chalsey Brown lost her ring finger at Civitan Park
Chalsey Brown lost her ring finger at Civitan Park after her wedding rings got caught on the chain link fence around the stands at Field 6. (Photo: Stephanie Ingersoll/The Leaf-Chronicle)
But she’s trying to stay upbeat.
She still goes to watch her son play tee ball on Field 6 where her accident happened, and she sits in the same stands.
“I’m really big on ‘everything happens for a reason,'” said the 23-year-old Clarksville woman.
Her husband was supposed to deploy with the Army that week but stayed behind to help her through the transition.
Now, she is trying to make something good from her pain.
She wants to make people aware of the possible dangers, and she reached out to the game organizers to let them know about her experience. She said she is not interested in suing but in raising awareness.
“I just hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Brown said. “It’s something so innocent, you’d never expect something like that to happen.”
Montgomery County spokesman Michelle Newell said Brown called county Parks and Recreation and was told to call a county risk manager but never did. The fences have been examined and are up to code and standards, Newell said.
Now that Brown’s finger is healing, she covers her stump with a Band-Aid. Her ring has been repaired and resized to wear on her right hand, but it still makes her nervous.
“I’m so scared to wear this now,” she said. “I’m thinking about putting it on a necklace.”