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Football Player Michael Frier Paralyzed in Crash; Teammate Arrested

December 2, 1994

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) _ A car carrying three Seattle Seahawks football players crashed into a utility pole, paralyzing defensive tackle Michael Frier. The driver, star running back Chris Warren, was arrested.

Frier, 25, sustained a severe neck injury in the Wednesday evening crash. He has no use of his legs or hands and only minimal muscle function in his upper arms, Dr. Michael Schlitt told a news conference at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue.

″The likelihood that he will play football again is zero,″ Schlitt said. ″The likelihood of walking is very poor.″

Warren, 27, was taken into custody at the crash scene for investigation of vehicular assault, Sgt. Mark Smith said. Smith said it appeared Warren was driving too fast for the rainslicked roads. Police would not comment on whether drugs or alcohol were involved; neither would Seahawks general manager Tom Flores.

Warren was released without having to post bond.

He was treated for two cracked ribs but not hospitalized. The third person in the car, rookie running back Lamar Smith, 24, was hospitalized overnight with chip fractures in his spine and ankle.

Frier played two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and then was released this year. The Seahawks signed him as a free agent Nov. 2, and he has played in three Seahawks games.

Frier was scheduled to undergo surgery this afternoon. Schlitt said he should regain some use of his arms ″but it’s doubtful he will have normal function of the hands.″

Warren, now in his fifth season in the pros, is the first Seahawks player to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He started this week he as the second leading rusher in the AFC.

The accident happened about 8:40 p.m. near the team’s training center. The Seahawks have a home game Sunday against Indianapolis.

The impact of the crash severed a utility line, knocking out electricity to 4,500 Puget Power customers for about an hour, the utility said.

″You read about it, you hear about it, but when it happens to somebody very close it really is a shock,″ Flores said. ″It’s something that we all have to keep praying for that they all recover.″

The accident was not the first involving National Football League players this season.

Dallas offensive lineman Erik Williams was lost for the season when he tore knee ligaments in an Oct. 24 crash. Williams pleaded no contest to drunken driving.

Teammate Shante Carver, a defensive end, also was involved in an accident in October when his speeding truck crashed into a concrete retaining wall.

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