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Staple shot into eye may leave pupil blind 'You're not even safe in school anymore'

A 14-year-old Buffalo boy could be blind in his right eye after a classmate fired a steel staple at him with a rubber-band sling-shot, tearing a half-inch gash into his eyeball, his father said.

Chammar Wiggins was finishing a late-morning math test last Thursday in Harriet Ross Tubman School 31 on Stanton Street when the incident occurred. His teacher had her back turned to collect a nearby test, according to Chammar's father, Leonard Wiggins.

"I'm angry," Wiggins said. "My son is sitting there minding his business. He looks up, and all of a sudden he's hit in the eye.

"You're not even safe in school anymore."

That night, Chammar underwent three hours of surgery in Women and Children's Hospital.

The staple ripped Chammar's eyeball from the sclera -- the white area of the eye -- to the retina. The wound cut through his iris -- the colored area of the eye -- and his pupil.

"I'm praying to God he does regain sight," Wiggins said. "But the doctors said he could be blind for the rest of his life. It's just senseless."

Wiggins said doctors said there is a "5 0/5 0 chance" his son may regain sight in that eye.

At another follow-up visit at the hospital Monday, doctors tested Chammar's eye and analyzed its strength. He is scheduled for a second surgery Monday to remove a cataract that was caused by the injury. A third surgery will likely be required.

Either way, Chammar's plans to participate in a sumo wresting demonstration in New York City later this week are now scuttled by his injury, and doctors are recommending he not return to school until early January, his father said.

Chammar, who takes seventh- and eighth-grade classes at the school, has attended Tubman for about five years. His ambition is to become a veterinarian, his father said.

School officials declined to comment on the incident and withheld the name of the pupil who inflicted the injury and details of the incident because of the age of those involved.

"We're still investigating the whole thing," said Heather Groll, spokeswoman for the Buffalo school system.

Leonard Wiggins said he was assured by school officials the offending student was suspended pending the investigation. They wouldn't tell him the student's name, however, and said Chammar doesn't even know who did it, he said.

"They won't tell me. Maybe they're afraid of retribution," Wiggins said. "I'm not that vindictive. We'll handle this legally."

Wiggins acknowledged school officials did apologize to the family for the incident and agreed to assist him with his pursuit of criminal assault charges against the other student.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com and vthomas@buffnews.com

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