Originally created 07/22/98

Condition of Dolphins' Wheeler upgraded



MIAMI -- The condition of Miami Dolphins guard Randy Wheeler, the former University of South Carolina lineman, was upgraded from critical to serious Tuesday, one day after he suffered spinal injuries when his vehicle overturned on Interstate 95.

Wheeler was being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital. There was concern about paralysis, but spokesmen for the Dolphins and hospital declined to provide details about Wheeler's condition, in accordance with his family's wishes.

Wheeler, 23, who lives in Hartsville, S.C., was driving to South Florida for the start of training camp Friday when the accident occurred near Palm City. His sports utility vehicle left the interstate during a rainstorm and hit a tree.

Wheeler was transferred from Martin Memorial Hospital in Stuart to Miami. Pat Austin, a spokeswoman at Martin Memorial, said Wheeler faced "a long road to recovery."

The 315-pounder was on the Dolphins' practice squad last season.

"I was sorry to learn of Randy's tragedy," coach Jimmy Johnson said. "I know he will show the same spirit fighting through this as he displayed on the football field, and all of our prayers are with him."