UGA football car crash fatalities: Injured passengers identified in car crash that killed player and staff after championship celebration

UGA football car crash fatalities: Injured passengers identified in car crash that killed player and staff after championship celebration



CNN

Hot on the heels of the University of Georgia’s national championship victory, police are investigating a fatal single-vehicle crash early Sunday that killed footballer Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy just hours after the Bulldogs’ triumphant celebration with fans, authorities said.

Shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday, LeCroy, 24, was driving with Willock, 20, and two other passengers near the UGA campus in Athens when the vehicle veered off the road, hitting two utility poles and several trees, Athens-Clarke County Police Department said in a news release.

Willock died at the scene and LeCroy died after being taken to hospital, police said. LeCroy was a football recruiting analyst for UGA, according to his LinkedIn.

Two passengers affiliated with the football team were also injured in the accident. Georgia offensive lineman Warren McClendon, 21, was lightly injured and Victoria Bowles, 26, was seriously injured, police say.

McClendon has started at the right tackle for Georgia this season and declared for the NFL Draft earlier Saturday. His father, Warren McClendon Sr., told the Athens Banner-Herald that he needed stitches in his forehead but was “doing fine.”

The crash happened hours after Sanford Stadium and the surrounding streets were filled with ecstatic fans who had come to celebrate the Bulldogs’ second straight national championship. But the next morning, they had joined the team to mourn the sudden loss of Willock and LeCroy.

Fan Daniel Dewitt attended Saturday’s victory parade and told CNN Willock was “upbeat and happy” as the team passed a crowd of supporters draped in red and black.

“It’s just heartbreaking after a week of celebration. And yesterday’s parade, seeing this player and then finding out he lost his life early this morning, the whole Bulldog nation is lost,” Dewitt said.

Photos of the crash site taken by nearby residents show a wooden power pole snapped in half and the car’s frame crumpled against a building.

“That car was dented like a tin can,” Cecily Pangburn, a resident of the apartment complex, told CNN. She described hearing a loud bang when the accident happened, followed by a power cut.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing, police said. Investigators have asked anyone with information to contact authorities.

Both members of the UGA team have been remembered by several university leaders as dynamic and valued presences in the football program.

“Devin was an exceptional young man in every way. He was always smiling, a great teammate and a joy to coach,” head football coach Kirby Smart said in a statement on Sunday.

“Chandler was a valued member of our football team and brought incredible attitude and energy every day,” the coach said.

Support for the Bulldogs also poured in from across the college football community on Sunday, including head coaches. Brian Kelly from Louisiana State University and Hugh Freeze from Auburn University.

Devin Willock plays against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Sanford Stadium on October 15, 2022.

“These two special people meant the world to our football program and our athletics department,” UGA athletic director Josh Brooks said in a statement. statement. “We are working with our medical staff and mental health and performance team to ensure our staff and student-athletes get all the support they need during this extremely difficult time.”

Willock, a redshirt sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey, joined the team as a freshman in 2020, according to UGA’s football roster. He has played on the offensive line in all 15 games for the team this year.

The player spent Saturday with the fans, savoring the joy of last week’s championship victory. One fan in particular had some quality time with Willock in the hours leading up to his death.

Willock met 7-year-old Camdyn Gonzales after the young fan spotted Willock as he left the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Athens on Saturday.

The player punched Camdyn and let the boy try on his huge 2021 championship ring.

“He was humbled and very grateful that we knew who he was and wanted to talk to him,” Camdyn’s grandfather Sam Kramer said, adding that Willock seemed “so full of life and just happy.”

Dewitt, the fan who saw Willock at Saturday’s parade, told CNN he has a 2021 UGA Championship tattoo and plans to get a matching one for this season’s win. This time, he said, it will feature Willock’s number, 77.

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