Police: Georgia’s Richard LeCounte driving unregistered dirt bike in crash

ATHENS — The motorcycle accident that sent Georgia star safety Richard LeCounte to an Athens hospital Saturday night was actually much more serious than originally reported.

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart on Monday revealed that the senior was in intensive care for the first two days and only recently transferred to a regular room. LeCounte remains in stable condition at Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of player he is, it’s one of our players, one of our family members, and when you get news like that, it’s crushing, it’s disheartening, everything just flashes before you,” Smart said Monday. “It was a scary moment. It was a very serious crash and he was very fortunate to have his helmet on and to be where he is now.”

He is “lucky to be alive,” according to LeCounte’s mother, Erika Blocker LeCounte. She said only the fact that LeCounte was wearing his helmet kept him from being more seriously injured. And the police report on the accident backs that up.

According to Athens-Clarke County Police, LeCounte was unresponsive when first responders arrived at the scene. He was traveling west on Macon Highway at an unknown rate of speed on an unregistered off-road motorcycle that was not equipped with lights or turn signals. Police estimate the accident occurred at 6:49 p.m., which would have been after sunset.

A 2019 Mazda 3 sedan driven by a 76-year-old man was traveling west on the same road and attempting to turn left into a convenience store. He did not see LeCounte coming.

LeCounte slammed on the brakes and slid down sideways on the motorcycle. After making contact with the passenger side of the Mazda, LeCounte was thrown into oncoming traffic where he made contact with with the front left corner of a 2017 Toyota Corolla driven by a 22-year-old female. LeCounte was unconscious and came to rest in the middle of the two lanes.

“He is very fortunate considering what most people have when they have one of those motorcycle accidents,” Smart said. “Certainly, it was scary for our team, for everybody in our family, everybody in our organization. It was scary for him and his family. It makes you hug your kids a little more at night, for sure.”

LeCounte suffered a concussion as well cuts and scrapes, a bruised shoulder and bruised ribs. His mother said there were no broken bones or permanent injuries.

LeCounte sent out a tweet Monday letting folks know how he was doing.

LeCounte is a senior and an NFL Draft prospect. The All-America candidate is third on the team in tackles (26) and leads the Bulldogs interceptions (3) and fumble recoveries. He had 13 tackles and a fumble recovery in Georgia’s 14-3 win over Kentucky this past weekend and was named SEC defensive player of the week on Monday.

No. 5-ranked Georgia (4-1) is preparing to play No. 8 Florida (3-1) in Jacksonville in the sixth of 10 regular-season games this season. If or when LeCounte may return is uncertain. But the Bulldogs weren’t worried about that.

“It really hurt my heart because I know that Richard loves this team, loves football, loves being a leader,” junior tackle Jamaree Salyer said. “I know it hurts him to be in this position, to not be able to be out there with the guys.”

Said running back Zamir White: “It was just shocking. At first I couldn’t believe it. It was just heartbreaking. We were all scared.”

LeCounte may eventually face traffic charges. He does not have a motorcycle license and was driving an unregistered vehicle without lights and turn signals. Police the accident “remains under investigation” and all the vehicles are impounded.

Smart was asked if this might spur him to ban motorcycles or scooters for his players.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “I think making good decisions and choices is important. I’ve always said sometimes when you ban things it does more harm than good. A lot of guys use scooters to get around campus … and those have been an issue before. So, it’s been a concern since I got here. But this was different.”