Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart has maintained his program has no culture problem, despite two of his players having been arrested for street racing violations, including Jalen Carter in connection with the fatal January 15 crash.
Carter was booked Wednesday night for reckless driving in connection with the car accident that killed sophomore teammate Devin Willock and Bulldogs recruiting coordinator Chandler LeCroy after Athens-Clarke County police obtained a warrant for the 21-year-old’s arrest.
Willock and LeCroy were killed in the car crash on January 15 after the group, which police say was also Carter, reportedly raced their vehicles through the streets of Athens.
In addition, last week Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson, a sophomore, was arrested on charges of racing on the city streets and reckless driving, according to the Athens-Clarke County Jail’s booking records.
Despite two Georgia players being arrested for traffic violations within two weeks, Kirby defended the “culture” within the Bulldogs football program.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has maintained his program has no culture problem
Top draft prospect Jalen Carter was booked Wednesday night for reckless driving in Athens
The crash in January killed football player Devin Willock and staffer Chandler LeCroy of Georgia
‘Absolutely not. I would say we’re a long way from there,” Smart told ESPN on Friday. “When you talk to people outside of our program who are on it, they talk about what a great culture we have — and we’re doing an incredible job. Because I have a lot of outside entities coming into our program and pouring into these young men.
‘Do we have perfect young men and women and players? Not necessary. But I promise you this, that’s the point: for us to grow these guys and make them better. And I feel very good about the culture within our study programme.’
Carter was stopped by police and given a speeding warning several months before he was involved in a fatal car accident in January.
It was revealed earlier this week that Carter had previously been pulled over and ticketed for speeding on September 22, 2022.
New video from a police camera obtained by ABC News and Channel 2 Action News shows an officer pulling Carter over on Sept. 22 for driving 89 mph in a 45 mph zone and begging him to slow down.
The officer also told Carter that minutes earlier he had stopped two other Georgia players and warned them to slow down.
While it appears the players have not heeded the police’s earlier warnings, Smart said he hopes they will learn from the tragic events of Jan. 15.
“I mean, there (are) laws for these things, to prevent it for a reason,” Smart said. “And we want to educate our players in every way, every part of our organization. We are constantly looking for a better way in whatever that is, including health and safety.
“I was talking about drugs and alcohol, about gambling, about racing cars and high speeds. You have to educate your players and you have to make sure they understand the risks and dangers of that, and that’s something we’ve tried to do.’
Smart added that last summer his program brought in officers from the UGA Police Department and Athens-Clarke County Police to educate players about the dangers of street racing.
The coach said Bryant Gantt, the director of the player support program, pitched the idea after seeing news clips of street racing in Atlanta.
Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson, a sophomore, was arrested last week on charges of racing on the city streets and reckless driving, according to prison booking records
Carter received a speeding warning just months before the fatal crash on January 15
The 21-year-old was pulled over on Sept. 22 for driving 89 mph in a 45 mph zone
Carter appeared to be driving the same black 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk he was supposed to drive before the car accident on Jan. 15
The accident happened at 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, January 15, just hours after Georgia’s victory parade less than two miles from the school campus, when a group of players and staff members got into three cars and left a local strip club to eat at a nearby restaurant. strip club. Waffle House, according to police. Willock was pronounced dead at the scene, while LeCroy died shortly after being taken to hospital.
The investigation found that Chandler LeCroy, driver of the 2021 Ford Expedition, and Jalen Carter, driver of a 2021 Jeep Trackhawk, were driving their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing shortly after they crossed downtown Athens at around 2:30 a.m. had left. read the statement from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
Carter, who is expected to be one of the first players selected in next month’s NFL Draft, previously told police he was a mile away from the crash. vehicle at the time of the accident. He left the scene of the crash before police or medical responders arrived and returned an hour and a half later, denying he was racing, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Police also now say LeCroy was legally intoxicated at the time of the crash with a blood alcohol level of .197. The state limit in Georgia is 0.08.
Police say LeCroy’s 2021 Ford Expedition, which was leased from the athletic department for recruiting, “failed to make a left turn, causing the vehicle to hit the curb with its front passenger tire and exit the roadway onto the west shoulder.” This caused the vehicle to strike electrical poles and a tree.
Police say both cars – Carter’s and LeCroy’s – were racing against each other in the hours following the Bulldogs parade, adding that LeCroy’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.
Smart said he was sleeping at home when his wife woke him up with the news. He had several missed calls on his mobile.
Police have obtained surveillance videos from cameras owned by the city and a business owner, though authorities have refused to release the footage referencing the ongoing investigation
In addition to LeCroy, 24, a Bulldogs recruiting coordinator, and Willock, 20, a promising offensive lineman, another recruiting assistant, Tory Bowles, 26, and Warren McClendon, 21, were also injured in the wreckage of January 15
“Heartache,” said Smart, when asked what he remembered about that night. “I got a call at about three in the morning. Immediately went to the emergency room. Probably one of the hardest moments I’ve ever experienced as a coach and leader to see the pain on the faces of the players who had reported to the emergency room that morning. (Athletic Director) Josh Brooks was there. You know, (I) remember the ER doctor telling me the news, and just one of the most painful experiences of my life.”
Smart’s last interaction with Willock, 20, was at the end of the parade, but he said he doesn’t recall seeing LeCroy, 24, at the celebration.
“I remember him walking out of the stadium with a big smile on his face,” said Smart. “I had just finished speaking on stage, and we slapped (and) knuckled each other like we did from time to time. He just had an infectious smile. One of the gentlest, best people in character. You know, he picked up my 10-year-old son and carried him off the field on championship night.”
Smart said many of the players are still hurting and dealing with the pain of the loss, but insisted the program supports their mental health.
Dumas-Johnson was arrested in connection with an alleged incident that occurred on January 10 — a day after Georgia defeated TCU in the College Football Playoff national championship game in Los Angeles.
A finalist for the Butkus Award, given annually to college football’s top linebacker, Dumas-Johnson placed second to the Bulldogs in 70 total tackles as Georgia won its second straight national title last season. He was also a 2022 first-team All-American.
Dumas-Johnson was also reported to have been present on January 15, although he was driving his own car. The police questioned him about the accident, according to the AJC.