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Prep Basketball Star Ronnie Fields Injured In Car Wreck

February 27, 1996

CHICAGO (AP) _ Ronnie Fields, ranked among the nation’s finest high school basketball players, broke a bone in his neck in a car accident early Monday.

Fields, who led Farragut High to the Chicago Public League title a year ago, was hospitalized in fair and stable condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, hospital administrator James Henri said.

Fields had a fractured cervical bone and was in traction, although he could move his hands and feet, Henri said. His orthopedist, Dr. Paul Meyer, would decide Tuesday whether surgery would be required, he said.

No estimate has been made on how long Fields might be sidelined. ``It’s too early to tell,″ Henri said.

The 6-3 Fields, a three-time Associated Press All-State player, was injured early Monday in rural DuPage County when the rental car he was driving swerved to avoid something in the roadway, slid and slammed twice into a guard rail, police said.

Fields, whose 19th birthday is Wednesday, was injured in unincorporated DuPage County near the intersection of Route 38 and Interstate 88, said Mary Jo Wiess, a spokeswoman for the DuPage County Sheriff’s Police.

Wiess said Fields was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and an airbag deployed. He left his car and walked to a squad car when police arrived, waiting there for an ambulance, she said.

Wiess said police did not know how quickly the car was going at the time of the accident.

There was no indication that drinking was involved and Fields was not ticketed for the accident. ``We did not feel there was any need at all for a DUI (driving under the influence) test,″ she said.

An acrobatic player with a 40-inch vertical leap, the Farragut senior _ who has been compared to and wears the same No. 23 jersey as Michael Jordan _ has averaged more than 30 points and 10 rebounds a game this season.

At Farragut on Monday, word spread quickly about the popular player, said assistant administrator Frank Valadez.

``They simply want to know what happened, the same that you do,″ he said.

Farragut’s Admirals (21-3) begin playoff action Wednesday, and Fields was scheduled to play in next month’s McDonald’s All-American game.

Because of lower college entrance test scores, he is flirting with the idea of following his former teammate Kevin Garnett and skipping college to go directly into the NBA. He plans to attend DePaul University if he qualifies on his ACT.

Garnett, only 19, has distinguished himself this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves after being the fifth overall selection of the 1995 pro draft.

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