MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Tennessee Titans cornerback Caleb Farley said he took the first flight home Tuesday after learning of an explosion that destroyed the NFL player’s North Carolina home, killing his father and injuring a family friend.
Farley said in an interview with WCNC-TV that he was in Nashville when a neighbor called and explained the situation.
“It didn’t sound good from the start,” he said, and then officials found his father’s body.
“I was really emotional earlier. I’ve kind of leveled off a little bit,” he said. “It’s just been a hectic roller coaster of a ride. Not only today, just for me the past five years, period. So I’ve been leaning on my faith and staying with the principles my mother and my father raised me with, and that’s what’s been keeping me going.”
Robert M. Farley, 61, was found dead in the debris of the Mooresville house, said Kent Greene, director of Iredell County Fire Services and Emergency Management. First responders arrived to find family friend Christian Rogers, 25, exiting the collapsed structure, and he was taken to a Charlotte hospital with a concussion, Greene said.
Robert Farley was on a video call with a friend when the explosion happened, and the friend, who thought Farley had dropped the phone at first, could not get back in touch with him, Greene said by telephone on Wednesday.
Christian Rogers’ mother, Sherri, said by telephone on Wednesday that her son and Caleb Farley have been friends since elementary school in Hickory, North Carolina, and her son had been living at the Mooresville home for nearly a year.
Sherri Rogers, who works for a New Jersey utility, asked her son if he had smelled anything. He told her smelled onion when he got home, but he thought it was something Farley had cooked and went to sleep, she said. He didn't know Robert Farley was home when the explosion occurred, and investigators told him of Farley’s death in the hospital, she said.
Christian Rogers had a dislocated shoulder. While he was having trouble sleeping, he has been resting, his mother said.
“He’s feeling guilty that he lived" and Robert Farley died, she said.
The cause of the explosion is under investigation, but Greene has said that gas must have accumulated over a long period and likely found its way to an ignition source. The blast, which local authorities have ruled accidental, originated in a bedroom and did not damage any surrounding homes.
County property records list the tax value of the home on a large plot near Lake Norman as nearly $2 million. On Tuesday, insulation hung from trees in the front yard, and wood debris and window frames were blown at least 50 yards (45 meters).
Property records list Caleb Farley, who was born and raised in nearby Maiden, as the homeowner.
Caleb Farley, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2021 draft, was placed on injured reserve in November with a back issue. He has played 12 games in his first two seasons and is currently listed as physically unable to perform as the Titans wrap up training camp this week.
“I’ve always known my father was loved in this community. Growing up as a little boy, I always knew my father was well-respected in this community. So, I appreciate the support, everybody coming out to just check on my family,” Caleb Farley told WBTV-TV. “All I have in this world is my faith ... that’s all I got.”