ATHENS, Ga. — Jalen Carter, the UGA star defensive lineman and projected No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, was booked into jail late Wednesday night in Athens-Clarke County, records show. A warrant for his arrest was previously issued for racing in connection to the January crash in which a UGA football staffer and player died.
He was booked into the Athens Clarke-County Jail at 11:33 p.m. and was released shortly after at 11:49 p.m., according to jail records.
11Alive obtained the arrest warrants earlier in the day Wednesday, which indicate the two charges against Carter are misdemeanors.
Jalen Carter has released the following statement:
"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 January 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."
Police are now also alleging the staffer who was driving the car that crashed, Chandler LeCroy, had a blood alcohol concentration twice the legal limit when the incident occurred.
Carter was scheduled to appear before media during the NFL draft combine Wednesday morning. UGA Coach Kirby Smart called the charges "deeply concerning" and said the football program and school will "continue to cooperate fully with the authorities."
Athens-Clarke County Police said in a new statement on Wednesday that the 21-year-old football player and the staffer, Chandler LeCroy, were "operating their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing shortly after leaving the downtown Athens area at about 2:30 a.m." the morning of the crash. The incident occurred after the Bulldogs had celebrated their national title the day before with a parade through Athens.
In addition to the deaths of Willock and LeCroy, another staffer, Tori Bowles, was seriously injured while Warren McClendon had minor injuries.
Surveillance video from Downtown Athens minutes before the wreck shows what appears to be an SUV similar to Carter's taking off from a red light; and right behind what appears to be an SUV similar to the one LeCroy was driving, trying to keep up.
"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 ACCPD statement said.
The department added: "Evidence indicated that shortly before the crash the Expedition (driven by LeCroy) was traveling at about 104 miles per hour. The toxicology report indicated that LeCroy's blood alcohol concentration was .197 at the time of the crash." The legal limit in Georgia is .08.
It's previously been reported that LeCroy was driving a rented car at the time she crashed. 11Alive has asked UGA if the school rented the car, and in its responses, the school said personal use of the car was "strictly prohibited."
The school said she and Bowles were "not engaged in Athletic Department duties" at the time the wreck occurred.
ACCPD said that investigators "determined that alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving and speed were significant factors to the crash."
The case is being referred to the Solicitor General's Office, ACCPD said.
According to a police crash report, the crash was initiated when LeCroy's vehicle, a 2021 Ford Expedition, failed to navigate a left curve, "resulting in the vehicle striking a curb with its front passenger tire and leaving the roadway on the west shoulder" and then hitting a power pole. It adds that a contributing factor was "exceeding speed limit."
Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said in a statement: "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. We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrible tragedy."
This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.
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