GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The father of a University of Georgia football player who died in a tragic crash after the Bulldogs won their second consecutive championship is suing several people tied to the incident and is seeking $40 million in damages.
Court records show Dave Willcock, Sr., the father of Devin Willock, is suing UGA's Athletic Association and members of the association. The lawsuit, filed in Gwinnett County on Tuesday, also names Chandler LeCroy -- the UGA staffer who was driving the vehicle that crashed -- and then-UGA defensive lineman Jalen Carter, who was in a separate car.
Carter has already pleaded no contest to traffic violations after he was accused of racing in connection with the incident. The complaint also brings up the auto company he had ties with. Toppers, the strip club the group was said to have left after championship celebrations, is also listed in the lawsuit.
Dave Willock is demanding a jury trial.
Case against Chandler LeCroy
In the lawsuit, attorneys for Dave Willock challenge UGA Athletic Association, Inc.'s nonprofit delineation explaining that it waived its charitable immunity by purchasing insurance covering its employees and "negligent entrustment of a vehicle to Chandler LeCroy," adding that the university was also negligent in hiring, supervising, training and retaining her employment. LeCroy had twice the legal alcohol limit in her system and was traveling more than 100 mph -- factors believed to be part of the January crash, investigators said.
As LeCroy died in the crash, the lawsuit names the estate of the 24-year-old as a defendant and is alleging her actions as an individual and as a UGA employee endangered Devin Willock.
According to court documents, more employees of UGA Athletic Association "who were aware of LeCroy's driving problems and drinking on January 14, 2023, will be added as party defendants as discovery proceeds."
Case against Jalen Carter, auto company
Jalen Carter entered a Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) Agreement or arrangement with Sarchione auto company in September 2022 which provided him with a Jeep Trackhawk as a spokesperson of the company, the lawsuit outlines and claims. The deal was approved by UGA's Athletic Association and its NCAA compliance department, the lawsuit reads.
Attorneys outlined the specs of the vehicle which include a 6.2 Liter, SRT, Supercharged "Hellcat" V-8 engine, adding that SRT is an acronym for "street racing technology" and these types of engines are "a favorite among illegal street racers."
The 88-page civil lawsuit includes exhibits, which lawyers for Willock call evidence, that supports negligence on behalf of the auto company and the vehicle's racing capabilities.
The lawsuit alleges that Carter also had an issue with speeding and received multiple tickets for traffic violations. In October 2022, according to the lawsuit, Carter pled guilty to a red light ticket he received shortly after entering his NIL deal. His tickets were allegedly paid by "Coach Gantt" as Carter's surrogate; fines exceeded $1,000.
Dave Willock's legal team said during the time of the fatal crash in Athens, Carter was driving on a suspended license. Carter's Florida license was suspended as he didn't complete a defensive driving course issued in July 2022 -- his license wasn't reinstated until after the crash on January 26 of this year, according to court documents.
In the claims against Carter, Willock's attorneys allege that he unlawfully left the scene of the January crash and did not return until an hour and a half later when a coach summoned him back to the scene.
It's important to note that Carter's attorneys previously stated that he was not responsible for the accident. (Read more about his no contest plea to traffic violations here.)
Case against Toppers
After championship festivities, staffers who were chauffeuring recruits and were done with their athletic duties used the vehicles leased by UGA's Athletic Association to continue celebrations with UGA players, the lawsuit said.
LeCroy used her university-issued SUV to meet up with other staffers and players at Toppers in downtown Athens where she spent more than an hour consuming alcohol, Dave Willock's legal team said.
"The bartenders, servers, and agents and employees at Toppers knew and or if properly trained and supervised should have known that LeCroy was noticeably intoxicated (when) they served her drinks at Toppers," the lawsuit reads.
Attorneys allege that if one person had cut off LeCroy, she may have not driven others while intoxicated.
Suit claims Willock did not consent to racing, drunk driving
Attorneys said Bowles and Devin Willock did not consent to any of the actions or decisions by LeCroy or Carter, the latter of which was in a separate car, made that night.
Devin Willock and Bowles did not know that LeCroy was intoxicated, the lawsuit claims, and did not want to participate in street racing -- even imploring LeCroy to slow down "and in the seconds before the crash."
Dave Willock is in part filing suit due to the "physical and mental pain prior to and during the period" suffered when his son was ejected from the SUV LeCroy was driving.
"Neither Tory Bowles nor Devin Willock were negligent in any regards as it relates to this collision," the lawsuit reads.
Suing for damages
Dave Willock said due to collective negligence on behalf of all named parties, he is seeking a jury trial and $30 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
"I'm kind of angry of the cover-up, everyone covering everything up," he previously said. "No one talking the truth."
Dave Willock said he firmly believes UGA's Athletics Association and the university contributed to his son's death, adding that poor oversight is no excuse for the hole now left in their family.
"Somebody has to pay for his life," the father said.
In a statement, UGA Athletic Association said it plans to address the allegations in court.
“The attorneys who filed the Complaint have refused to provide any factual basis for their claims against the Athletic Association, and we believe the evidence will prove them to be without merit. We intend to strongly dispute these baseless allegations in Court.”