One of the first things David Cauthron did was check his stepson's fingers.
When the mortar ball hit him, it burned a significant portion of Taron Pounds' face and arms.
Cauthron knew how important music was, how important those fingers were, to the 22-year-old jazz guitarist.
Several weeks later, Pounds is not only working to recover from the accident but also learning new instruments, including the electric violin and the cello.
“I can't imagine what our family would be like without him,” David Cauthron said at a news conference Monday. “That's not a possibility, because we are such a big family, and family is everything to us.”
This past Friday, Pounds, a Tulsa resident, underwent a 22-hour reconstructive surgery at OU Medical Center to repair extensive damage to the left side of his face.
In July, Pounds was at a family event in Inola, setting off fireworks, when something went wrong. Pounds lit the fuse of a commercial-grade mortar shell, and shortly thereafter, his family members saw a puff of smoke. It remains unclear as to how the accident happened.
When Dr. Trinitia Cannon first saw Pounds, she didn't know where exactly his nasal passages were because of the extensive damage. She and Dr. Jose Sanclement, also an otolaryngologist, have been working on Pounds' recovery for several weeks. Friday's surgery was the second stage in that recovery.
The two doctors used Pounds' left fibula and tissue from his leg to reconstruct his midface.
Pounds lost most of the bone that holds and stabilizes his midface. He also lost a substantial amount of nasal and cheek bones, the bones that support his left eye, the roof of his mouth and several teeth.
During a previous surgery, Cannon and other medical staff repaired his jaw and stabilized the bones that hold his mouth together. They placed plates around his jaw to stabilize it and also placed wires around his teeth.
Because of his extensive injuries, doctors had to wait several weeks before they could take the next step in Pounds' recovery.
Pounds will spend about 10 days in the hospital before returning home. It will take at least six months to a year to get Pounds back to what's “cosmetically acceptable” for him in the long run, Cannon said.
Pounds cannot see out of his left eye yet, but there's no verdict on whether he will be blind in that eye. Pounds, a graphic design sophomore at Northeastern State University, will start online classes when he's ready.
Pounds' mother, Tammy Cauthron, said even though her son has several surgeries ahead of him, he has tried to remain positive about his recovery.
“Taron has accepted ... he's not going to be exactly what you see in this picture ever again, inside or outside,” Cauthron said. “He's changed. This is a life-changing event for our entire family. For Taron, it's physical, as well as emotional and mental. There's a lot of changes — for the good, I know he's a much stronger man because of this.”