Former Georgia Bulldogs star Jalen Carter has been charged with reckless driving and racing in connection with a crash that killed a teammate and a recruiting staff member. The defensive lineman is one of the top prospects in next month’s NFL draft, and now his NFL future might be in jeopardy, although both charges are misdemeanors in Georgia.
An arrest warrant issued by the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Police Department and revealed on Wednesday alleges that Carter was racing his 2021 Jeep Trackhawk against a 24-year-old recruiting staffer, Chandler LeCroy, who was driving a 2021 Ford Expedition, leading to the Jan. 15 wreck. Tragically, Bulldogs offensive lineman Devin Willock and LeCroy were killed.
The 20-year-old Willock died at the scene, while LeCroy died shortly after being taken to a hospital.
Racing Goes Wrong
LeCroy’s SUV was traveling at 104 mph right before the crash. Carter and the Jeep he drove left the area before police or emergency personnel arrived. Less than two hours later, he reportedly returned to the scene and was asked by police whether he had been racing the vehicle that crashed. All evidence, per police, points to a car race gone wrong, although Carter denied he’d been racing. He also was not observed to be intoxicated, per police reports.
“The evidence demonstrated that both vehicles switched between lanes, drove in the center turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists, and drove at high rates of speed, in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other,” the police statement said, per The Associated Press.
Carter was reportedly present at the crash scene, and police were skeptical as he later provided shifting accounts of the accident. The incident was initially reported as a single-vehicle accident. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carter first told authorities he heard the crash from an apartment complex nearby. Later he said to an officer that he had been driving behind and beside LeCroy’s SUV.
The police investigators said in the report that LeCroy’s vehicle “failed to negotiate a left curve, resulting in the vehicle striking the curb with its front passenger tire and leaving the roadway on the west shoulder.”
NFL Career In Jeopardy?
Carter has been in Indianapolis at the NFL scouting combine. However, per his reps, police were informed they were “making arrangements for [Carter] to turn himself in,” said Shaun Barnett, a spokesman for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, to ESPN.
“The charges announced today are deeply concerning, especially as we are still struggling to cope with the devastating loss of two beloved members of our community,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a statement. “We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrible tragedy.”
Surveillance video footage taken the night of the incident and obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from multiple downtown locations in Athens showed three vehicles leaving the area simultaneously. The vehicles included the SUV driven by LeCroy and Carter’s car and a 2019 Dodge Charger reportedly driven by Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson.
Ironically, the crash happened hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their back-to-back national championships win.