DawgsCentral spoke to Jalen Carter’s attorney on Thursday afternoon in an effort to gain further clarity on the former UGA player’s actions in the moments after the tragic crash that took the lives of Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and Bulldogs recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. His statements refuted reports that Carter fled the scene of the accident prior to the arrival of law enforcement and medical personnel.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first broke the news that Carter’s Jeep Trackhawk was racing the Ford Expedition driven by LeCroy in the moments prior to the January 15th crash. Carter was charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses of reckless driving and racing in the hours after that report was released.
Kim Stephens of Athens law firm Stephens & Brown represented Carter in the case. He released an extensive written statement yesterday announcing that Carter pleaded no contest to the charges. That statement included new information on Carter’s actions in the moments after the accident.
Previous reports on Carter’s involvement with the accident had alleged that he left the crash scene before police or emergency medical workers arrived. Yesterday’s written statement from Stephens appeared to offer a different account of Carter’s actions in the moments after the crash.
“Mr. Carter never left the scene of the accident without being told that he could leave. He stopped his car immediately after the accident occurred and ran toward the wrecked vehicle while his passenger called 911. Even after being informed that he could leave, Mr. Carter returned to the scene at the request of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department to answer additional questions and continued to cooperate throughout the investigation.”
When specifically asked if Carter left the scene of the accident before any law enforcement or medical personnel arrived, Stephens said the following to DawgsCentral, “My understanding is he was still there.”
Stephens went into more detail when asked about his written statement contradicting reports of Carter leaving the scene.
“The idea that he fled the scene is unsupported by anything I saw in my review of the case. Now that the case is over everything related to the investigation is subject to an open records request. There shouldn’t be any question about what happened. He did not leave the scene until he was told he could leave the scene.”
Stephens continued, “My information from the police reports, video and our investigation is he was told he could leave. He left, and before he was able to get home, he was called and asked to return. He returned, gave an interview to the investigators, and gave them the phone number of his passenger. The passenger interviewed with police sometime later.”
DawgsCentral asked Stephens why he didn’t combat reports by other outlets that Carter left the scene when he was asked on Thursday. Stephens said that he never read the initial reporting on the case. “I told the person who called that I can’t combat something that I didn’t read... If something was reported that was different from my statement then I would defer to my statement.”
Reports that Carter left the scene has also led to speculation about his state on the evening of the crash. “When you see the videos you’ll see the investigator is right within a foot of his face. They would’ve charged him with a DUI or done more investigating if he smelled like alcohol or had any signs of being under the influence,” said Stephens.
With the case resolved, the reports and police videos from the night of January 15th can now be requested by media outlets. That should offer further clarity on exactly what Carter did in the moments after the accident, and may be of interest to NFL teams as they do their homework on Carter.
Once considered a guaranteed top five pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, news of Carter’s involvement in the crash has caused many analysts to speculate that he might slide down the draft boards of NFL teams. Carter appeared at Georgia’s Pro Day this week and weighed in at 323 pounds, nine pounds heavier than he had at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He wasn’t able to finish that workout due to cramping. Carter will have the opportunity to visit NFL teams in the coming weeks and answer any questions about his physical health and off-field behavior.
Carter released the statement below when news broke that he was racing the Ford Expedition driven by LeCroy on the night of January 15th.
The NFL Draft starts on April 27th in Kansas City.