ATHENS, Ga. — Former University of Georgia star Jalen Carter was arrested Wednesday on charges related to a deadly crash that killed a teammate and football staff member just hours after a parade celebrating the team’s second consecutive championship win.
Channel 2′s Bryan Mims was in Athens Thursday, where the early-morning crash happened on Jan. 15 on Barnett Shoals Road.
Recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, 24, and UGA offensive lineman Devin Willock, 20, were killed when police say LeCroy lost control of the rented SUV while traveling at a high rate of speed.
Two other football program members, three-year offensive tackle Warren McClendon, 21, and Victoria Bowles, 26, were injured. Police initially characterized the crash as one that only involved one car.
On Wednesday, police announced they had determined that racing, reckless driving, speed and alcohol impairment contributed to the crash and that Carter was involved.
Police say LeCroy, who was driving in a 2021 Ford Expedition, and Carter, who was driving in a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, were racing after they left downtown Athens around 2:30 a.m. that Sunday.
Channel 2 Action News has obtained surveillance video that shows both LeCroy and Carter’s vehicles speed of from a traffic light one after the other after a group of players and staffers left a strip club.
Police determined that LeCroy’s SUV reached speeds up to 104 mph before she lost control and crashed. It is unclear how fast Carter was driving before the crash.
“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,” police said.
Police also released the toxicology report for LeCroy, which determined that her blood alcohol concentration was .197 at the time of the crash. It is more than two times the legal limit. It is unclear if any blood alcohol testing was performed for Carter.
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Police said Carter was at the scene of the accident, but left and gave false statements to police.
Carter was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of street racing and reckless driving.
Jail records show that Carter turned himself in at the Athens-Clarke County Jail around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and that was released shortly after.
His bonds totaled $4,000, but the judge released him without having to post bond on the condition that he show up for his court date in April.
Mims talked to defense attorney Jackie Patterson, who is a former prosecutor and judge. He said that, given the circumstances, Carter could face more serious consequences.
“Every case that I was involved in where someone was racing or speeding, and someone died, they were always charged with felony vehicular homicide,” Patterson said. “And that carries up to 15 years in prison.”
Patterson said that if the charges remain as is, Carter would be getting a great deal because he could only get 12 months in the county jail on each charge and a maximum $1,000 fine.
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Carter released a statement Wednesday afternoon on his social media accounts.
“This morning, I received a telephone call from the Athens, Georgia police department informing me that two misdemeanor warrants have been issued against me for reckless driving and racing. Numerous media reports also have circulated this morning containing inaccurate information concerning the tragic events of Jan. 15, 2023. It is my intention to return to Athens to answer the misdemeanor charges against me and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented. There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”
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Carter is projected by many to be one of the top picks, if not the top pick, in the 2023 NFL Draft. He will have to be back in Athens for arraignment in municipal court in April, just nine days before the draft.
Channel 2 sports director Zach Klein is in Indianapolis, where Carter was scheduled to speak Wednesday but did not.
Klein spoke to Carter’s teammate, Nolan Smith, about the loss of his teammate and dear friend Devin Willock. It’s the first time Smith has talked publicly about his loss.
“He never did anything wrong... His brother passed like that,” Smith said through tears. “And I’m just sorry to his mama. No one should have to live like that. You know, no one should deserve to die like that.”
Willock would have celebrated his 21st birthday on Tuesday.
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