Coroner: Upstate teen died from thermal injuries after striking - FOX Carolina 21

Coroner: Upstate teen died from thermal injuries after striking guardrail, tree

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Cole Dylan Wheeler (Source: Family) Cole Dylan Wheeler (Source: Family)
Cole Dylan Wheeler pictured with friend. (Source: Family) Cole Dylan Wheeler pictured with friend. (Source: Family)
OCONEE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers and the Oconee County coroner are investigating a collision that killed a Seneca man Sunday morning.

The collision occurred Sunday morning at approximately 7:45 a.m. on US-76 near Johnny Cox Road, per troopers.

The driver was traveling south on US-76 in a 2004 Ford Mustang when the driver ran off the left side of the road, struck a guardrail, traveled down an embankment and into a tree, per trooper reports. The car then caught on fire, according to the coroner.

The driver was entrapped, fatally injured and pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers say the driver was wearing a seat belt. No other vehicles or passengers were involved in the collision.

The coroner has made a tentative identification based on personal items found in the vehicle and said Cole Dylan Wheeler, 18, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is believed that alcohol contributed to the collision, per the coroner's report.

After an autopsy, the coroner said Wheeler died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries. His death has been ruled accidental. Toxicology results are pending.

Coroner Karl Addis said through investigation it appears the teen attended an after-prom party somewhere in the Long Creek area. Addis said Wheeler did not attend the actual prom Saturday night; he had already graduated from high school.

Relatives said Wheeler suffered from seizures.

Amanda Rogers, cousin of Cole Wheeler, grieves his loss along with the rest of his family.

"He was a great athlete, loving son, brother, nephew, uncle," said Rogers. "He was very smart and had a very bright future ahead of him."

Rogers started an online fundraiser to help Wheeler's family with funeral costs. You can donate to that fundraiser here. A GoFundMe has also been set up.

The incident is under investigation.

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