Former Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a January car crash that left one of his teammates and a team staffer dead, his attorney said.
Carter, a standout for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs and a projected top pick in the NFL draft, was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service. He is also expected to participate in a state-approved defensive driving course.
Carter’s attorney Kim Stephens welcomed the resolution, saying in a statement Thursday: “We are happy that we were able to work with the solicitor general’s office to reach a resolution that was fair and just based on the evidence in this case.”
“Mr. Carter continues to grieve for the loss of his friends and continues to pray for their families, as well as for the continued healing for injured friends,” Stephens said.
Stephens noted that with the entry of Carter’s plea, “the State is forever barred from bringing any additional charges against Jalen Carter for conduct alleged to have occurred on January 15, 2023.”
Authorities previously said that on Jan. 15, former University of Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, 24, were killed in a crash.
Carter, they said, had been behind the wheel of a 2021 Jeep Trackhawk, which he was racing with LeCroy, who was driving a 2021 Ford Expedition.
“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.
Shortly before the crash took place, the Expedition had reached 104 mph, police said, and LeCroy’s blood alcohol content was 0.197 “at the time of the crash.”
“Investigators determined that alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving, and speed were significant contributing factors to the crash,” police said.
The wreck occurred just a few hours after the Bulldogs held a parade following a ceremony at Sanford Stadium honoring their championship.
Authorities said other people were in the Expedition with LeCroy when the crash unfolded, including offensive lineman Warren McClendon. McClendon, who was wearing a shoulder and lap restraint while seated in the right front passenger seat, sustained only minor injuries, police said.
They said Willock, 20, had not been wearing a seatbelt during the crash.
Another member of the Georgia football staff, Victoria Bowles, had been sitting in the backseat with Willock, police said. Bowles, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was hospitalized with serious injuries, police said.
Authorities said the Expedition had “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.”
The SUV hit a Georgia Power pole and another utility pole, before striking a tree on the rear passenger quarter panel. That sent the vehicle spinning before it slammed into another tree on the driver’s side — where both LeCroy and Willock were sitting, police said.