ESPN News Services5 minute read
Former Georgia star Jalen Carter, one of the top prospects in the NFL Draft next month, has been charged with reckless driving and racing in connection with an accident that killed a teammate and a recruiting staff member .
The Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, Police Department issued an arrest warrant, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, that alleges Carter was racing his 2021 Jeep Trackhawk against the 2021 Ford Expedition driven by the recruiter, Chandler LeCroy, 24. , which led to the sinking of January 15.
The announcement came hours after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Carter was present at the scene of the crash and later provided changing accounts of the wreckage to police.
Devin Willock, who was an offensive lineman for the Bulldogs, and LeCroy were killed in what police initially reported as a single-vehicle crash.
Carter is in Indianapolis at the NFL combine. He was scheduled to speak to reporters as part of a previously scheduled media availability, but a league spokesperson later told reporters that Carter would not speak on Wednesday because he and five other players were still undergoing physicals.
Reckless driving and racing are both misdemeanors in Georgia.
In a statement posted to social media later Wednesday, Carter said he intended to return to Athens to “address the misdemeanor charges against me and ensure the full and accurate truth is presented.”
Carter’s representatives told police they were “arranging for (Carter) to turn himself in,” according to Shaun Barnett, spokesman for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
Barnett told ABC News Athens police “have been in contact with their representatives,” but said he doesn’t know when Carter will turn himself in.
Carter also said in his statement that he expects to be “fully cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.”
The inquest details, released Wednesday, cited evidence that Carter and LeCroy were “driving their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing” shortly before the crash.
“Evidence showed that the two vehicles changed lanes, entered the center turn lane, entered opposing lanes of traffic, passed other motorists and drove at high speeds, in an apparent attempt to distance,” police said. statement said.
Police investigators determined that “alcoholism, racing, reckless driving and speeding were significant contributing factors to the accident”. A toxicology report said LeCroy’s blood alcohol concentration was .197 — more than double the legal limit in Georgia — at the time of the accident, police said.
The SUV driven by LeCroy was traveling at approximately 104 mph shortly before the accident.
“The charges announced today are deeply concerning, especially as we continue to struggle to come to terms with the devastating loss of two beloved members of our community,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a statement. communicated. “We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrific tragedy.”
According to documents and recordings of 911 calls reviewed by the Journal-Constitution, at least two vehicles driven by Georgian soccer players were at the scene, including the Jeep driven by Carter, which left the scene before the arrival of police or emergency personnel.
Carter returned to the scene less than two hours later, according to the newspaper, which reported that police asked him if he had driven the crashed vehicle.
Documents reviewed by the Journal-Constitution show Carter initially told police he heard the crash from a nearby apartment complex, but then later told an officer he was driving to both behind and beside the SUV driven by LeCroy.
The Journal-Constitution also obtained surveillance video footage of several locations in downtown Athens taken the night of the accident. The footage, which was also reviewed by police, shows three vehicles leaving the area at the same time: Carter’s Jeep, LeCroy’s Ford and a 2019 Dodge Charger driven by Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson.
Carter denied running to the officer, who observed no signs that the 310-pound defensive lineman had been drinking, according to the Journal-Constitution.
The crash happened hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their back-to-back wins with a parade and ceremony at Sanford Stadium. Willock was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 20 years old. LeCroy died shortly after being taken to hospital.
Police investigators said the Ford driven by LeCroy “failed to negotiate a left curve, which resulted in the vehicle hitting the curb with its front passenger tire and leaving the roadway on the west shoulder”.
The SUV struck a Georgia Power pole and another utility pole, splitting the poles in half, before hitting a tree on the rear passenger panel. This sent the vehicle spinning clockwise before slamming into another tree on the driver’s side – where LeCroy and Willock were sitting.
Offensive lineman Warren McClendon, who had just announced his intention to enter the NFL Draft, suffered minor injuries. Georgia football staff member Victoria Bowles was hospitalized with more serious injuries.
Georgia Athletic Department officials said the SUV LeCroy drove was to be used for recruiting activities only, and not for personal use.
Carter is the No. 1 prospect in the draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.. He does not participate in the practice part of the combine, but will conduct interviews with the teams and undergo a physical examination.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.