UPDATED: Jalen Carter reports to jail on street racing, reckless driving charges

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Police: Toxicology report shows UGA recruiting staffer LeCroy was drunk, traveling 104 mph before crash

Georgia football star Jalen Carter turned himself in to authorities late Wednesday on street racing and reckless driving charges in connection with a car crash that killed another football player and a recruiting staffer. The recruiter was intoxicated and driving 104 mph at the time of the crash, authorities said Wednesday.

The Athens police issued arrest warrants on the two misdemeanor charges while Carter participated in the NFL’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis. Carter, projected as a top choice in this year’s draft, left Indianapolis Wednesday morning, canceling a news conference at which he was to have discussed his prospects.

Carter was booked into the Athens-Clarke County Jail at 11:33 p.m. Wednesday and was released 24 minutes later.

Credit: Photo provided by Ceciley Pangburn

Credit: Photo provided by Ceciley Pangburn

Carter posted a statement Wednesday on Twitter saying the Athens police notified him of the arrest warrants earlier in the day.

“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,” Carter wrote. “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.”

The charges were announced hours after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Carter had left the scene of the crash, apparently before police and emergency medical crews arrived.

The police described a manic scene leading to the crash, which occurred at 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 15, following a day of celebration of Georgia’s second consecutive national football championship. Recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, 24, and offensive lineman Devin Willock, 20, died in the crash. Another recruiting staffer, Tory Bowles, 26, and another player, Warren McClendon, 21, were injured.

Carter and the occupants of the car that crashed appeared to be among several players and recruiting staff members who left a downtown Athens strip club about 2:30 a.m., according to surveillance video obtained by the Journal-Constitution. The police examined other video from cameras posted along the route between downtown and the crash site, about three miles away.

In a statement, the Athens police said the vehicles — Carter’s Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk and a rented Ford Expedition driven by LeCroy — “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.”

Investigators determined the Expedition was driving 104 mph shortly before the crash. The speedometer broke at 83 mph after the car struck two utility poles, trees and an apartment building, according to police documents obtained by the Journal-Constitution.

A toxicology report determined that LeCroy’s blood-alcohol concentration at the time of the crash was .197, nearly 2 1/2 times the legal limit.

“Investigators determined that alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving and speed were significant contributing factors to the crash,” the police statement said.

Through a spokesman, University of Georgia President Jere Morehead declined to comment on the charges or details of the crash.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

In a statement, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart described the charges against Carter as “deeply concerning.”

“We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrible tragedy,” Smart said.

The charges and new details of the crash contradict the narrative initially offered by police officials: that the wreck was simply a single-car crash caused by speeding.

No autopsies were ordered for LeCroy or Willock because police said at the scene that no other drivers were involved, Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson told the Journal-Constitution. Wilson ordered a toxicology test only for LeCroy, the driver.

Police cited Carter three times for traffic violations in Athens during the fall semester, court records show.

On Aug. 23, the university police department issued him a ticket for parking in a handicapped zone near the school’s athletic complex. A notation in court records shows that the $288 fine was paid on Nov. 1 by “Gant.” The Journal-Constitution reported last month that Bryant Gantt, the football team’s director of player support, often intercedes when players run afoul of the law.

The university police cited Carter again on Sept. 2 for failure to obey a traffic control device on Georgia’s East Campus. Court records show “Grant - coach” as appearing on Carter’s behalf. Carter was fined $185.

And on Sept. 22, an Athens officer ticketed Carter for driving 89 in a 45 mph zone west of downtown. The officer also cited him for having excessive tinting on his car windows and windshield. A judge fined Carter $1,013 for speeding and $151 for each of the tinting violations.

The officer who stopped Carter called his driving “reckless,” according to body camera footage of the encounter obtained by the Journal-Constitution. The officer, J. Lewis, said he had recently ticketed two other Georgia football players and suggested that Carter tell his teammates to slow down. Lewis also told Carter that the stop could have resulted in more than a citation.

“Your break is not going to jail,” Lewis said. “That’s your break. It’d make all kinds of news.”

Credit: Compilation

Credit: Compilation