Chandler LeCroy’s estate denies liability in fatal UGA crash

Estate of football staffer who raced, drove drunk challenges lawsuit in high profile case

The estate of former UGA recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy says it is not liable for the injuries suffered by Georgia football staffer Victoria “Tory” Bowles, a passenger involved in a fatal January crash that killed LeCroy and Georgia football player Devin Willock.

In a response filed Friday to Bowles’ lawsuit in Gwinnett County state court, attorneys for LeCroy’s estate say Bowles was negligent and failed to exercise “ordinary care” when she got in an SUV driven by LeCroy following a celebration at an Athens strip club.

A toxicology report released after the crash determined LeCroy had a blood alcohol level of .197, twice the legal limit for driving.

Bowles, who was severely injured in the crash, was fired from her UGA recruiting analyst job in August after she filed the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff knew about the risk, and voluntarily undertook the risk that led to the incident,” according to the LeCroy court filing reads. Attorneys for LeCroy’s estate did not respond to a request for comment on the filing.

LeCroy was driving a black Ford Expedition rented by the UGA Athletic Association to ferry recruits during that weekend’s championship celebration. She was driving 104 miles per hour moments before the vehicle left the roadway and crashed on Barnett Shoals Road, according to police.

UGA athletics association has said LeCroy was unauthorized to use the rented vehicle at the time of the crash and should have known to return it following the end of her recruiting duties that day. But the claim filed last week by LeCroy’s estate appears to contradict those assertions.

Her estate asserts that LeCroy was acting within the scope of her duties as an employee of UGA and the state of Georgia when she was driving the SUV rented by the athletic association, entitling her to sovereign immunity — a law that prevents plaintiffs from suing state actors.

In Bowles’ initial complaint filed in July, her attorneys alleged LeCroy was negligent, and thus liable, for racing former Georgia football defensive star Jalen Carter prior to the crash. Bowles is seeking more than $170,000 in damages.

Carter was charged in March with street racing and reckless driving. He pleaded no contest and received 12 months of probation and 50 hours of community service. In its response, LeCroy’s estate denies she was racing Carter.

Other filings from defendants in the lawsuit also look to cast blame on Bowles. Carter’s attorneys said in a legal filing that Bowles “voluntarily assumed the risk of harm” by riding in the car with LeCroy and they deny Carter is responsible for the crash. In a September filing, the UGA Athletic Association said Bowles should have known that LeCroy was intoxicated when the group left an Athens strip club, Toppers International Showbar, shortly before the crash.

“Ms. Bowles made the fateful choice to get in a rented Ford Expedition with an intoxicated Ms. LeCroy behind the wheel,” the athletic association’s attorney, Scott Bailey, wrote in a September filing.

For their part, Bowles’ attorneys denied she was aware of LeCroy’s impairment before she got into the SUV.

Edited video footage from inside Toppers that night revealed that, while Bowles initially purchased drinks with LeCroy at the club’s bar, the two spent much of the hour and a half they were in the club apart. Athens-Clarke County police surveillance video from outside of the club showed Bowles walking apart from LeCroy and other members of the Georgia football team as they made their way to their cars.

LeCroy’s estate is also facing a lawsuit from the family of Devin Willock and have raised similar defenses, alleging Willock was negligent in riding with LeCroy.