UGA player’s father seeks $2 million in fatal crash

In legal notice, lawyers dispute university’s version of crash that killed two
A memorial for University of Georgia football player Devin Willock and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy at the site where their automobile crashed on Barnet Shoals Road on Jan. 15 in Athens.  (Jason Getz /

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A memorial for University of Georgia football player Devin Willock and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy at the site where their automobile crashed on Barnet Shoals Road on Jan. 15 in Athens. (Jason Getz /

The father of a deceased University of Georgia football player is seeking $2 million in what may become the first civil action involving a fatal car crash that rocked the school’s champion football program.

In a legal notice sent to the university this month, offensive lineman Devin Willock’s father disputes much of the university’s version of events that preceded the Jan. 15 crash. Lawyers for Dave Willock, of New Milford, New Jersey, instead blame the crash on a lack of oversight by football team officials of employees including recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, who also died in the crash that occurred amid a high-speed, early morning race through Athens.

In doing so, the lawyers make two potentially explosive allegations. First, they claim prospective recruits were at an Athens strip club with Devin Willock, LeCroy and other players and football staff members the night of the crash — a potential violation of NCAA rules. And, second, they say LeCroy was served alcohol at UGA Athletic Association events while she was assigned to ferry recruits and their families around Athens in a luxury SUV rented by the university.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution could not independently verify or refute those allegations. Willock’s lawyers declined to comment about the filing, and the legal notice cites only unspecified “written, verbal, text and email messages,” as well as information gathered by Athens police and the news media.

In a statement Tuesday, the university denied the allegations and said Willock’s lawyers had provided no evidence “to support these reckless claims.”

“The claims ... are false, and the university disputes them in the strongest terms,” the statement from university spokesman Greg Trevor said.

He repeated the university’s earlier statements that laid blame for the crash on LeCroy.

“As we have made clear,” Trevor’s statement said, “personal use of vehicles rented for recruiting activities was strictly prohibited. Ms. LeCroy was not engaged in athletic department duties around the time of the accident, and her personal use of the car after the recruiting duties ended earlier that evening was therefore unauthorized.”

Willock’s allegations appear in an “ante litem” notice, a filing required in litigation against state entities in Georgia. The state Board of Regents has 90 days to respond before Willock’s attorneys could file a lawsuit in court. Willock’s attorneys are seeking the maximum allowed by law from a state agency.

His lawyers suggest they may separately sue the athletic association, as well as LeCroy’s estate, a litigation threat that represents a significant shift by Willock. Shortly after the crash, he suggested he expected a settlement from the university and said he had no plans to pursue legal action.

“No, Georgia is working with us,” Willock said at the time. “We have no reason to do that because they are compensating us 100%.”

Devin Willock

Credit: University of Georgia

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Credit: University of Georgia

The fatal crash occurred during a busy — and significant — weekend for Georgia’s football program. Thousands of fans crowded into Athens for a celebration of the team’s second consecutive national championship on a weekend when dozens of high school recruits — some from as far away as Texas and California — visited the Georgia campus.

Willock’s lawyers say LeCroy and Tory Bowles, another recruiting analyst who was severely injured in the crash, were on duty throughout the weekend. They dispute the university’s contention that LeCroy was not authorized to drive the Ford Expedition at the time of the crash.

“LeCroy was instructed to keep the vehicle the entire weekend, and to be on call that weekend to serve coaches, recruits and players as needed during the championship celebrations that weekend,” the notice says.

Georgia fans gathered in Sanford Stadium in Athens on Jan. 14 to celebrate a second consecutive national football championship. Hours later, a fatal crash rocked the football program.  (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

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Credit: Jason Getz /

The university gave LeCroy possession of the Expedition despite her driving history, which includes four speeding tickets over six years. University officials recently said that “athletic department administration” had not known about her latest ticket, issued last October for driving 77 mph in a 55-mph zone in Morgan County. But Willock’s lawyers said LeCroy’s supervisor was riding in the car when she received the latest ticket.

On Saturday, Jan. 14, the notice says, LeCroy and other recruiting staff members drank alcohol at various events, at times served by caterers working for the athletic association. By the time of the crash, LeCroy’s blood-alcohol content was more than two times greater than the legal limit.

Bowles had turned over her rental car to a coach sometime that Saturday and rode with LeCroy that evening, according to the notice. The two women accompanied players and recruits around Athens for several hours, Willock’s lawyers say.

LeCroy went to downtown Athens about 10 p.m., cell phone data obtained by the Athens police indicated. A little after 1 a.m., LeCroy and Bowles entered Toppers International Showbar, a strip club near the Georgia campus, with several players and other members the team’s recruiting staff, surveillance video shows. A football player later told Athens police the club was filled with UGA players.

LeCroy, Bowles, Willock and lineman Warren McClendon left Toppers about 2:30 a.m. with several other players, including defensive star Jalen Carter. The lawyers say Willock and McClendon asked LeCroy to drive them to a Waffle House.

Carter, a top prospect in this year’s NFL draft, led LeCroy on a high-speed trip out of downtown, weaving in and out of traffic at speeds exceeding 100 mph, according to police reports. About 2:45 a.m., LeCroy lost control of the Expedition on Barnett Shoals Road and struck utility poles, trees and an apartment building. An onboard computer registered her speed as 104 mph moments before the crash. Carter later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and street racing. A judge sentenced him to 12 months on probation, fined him $1,013 and ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service.

LeCroy, 24, was pronounced dead at an Athens hospital. Willock, 20, was ejected from the back seat and died at the scene. He was, the legal notice says, “consciously aware of LeCroy’s excessive speed and an impending collision in the moments prior to his death.”