Jalen Carter, the former University of Georgia football star and a top NFL prospect, turned himself in late Wednesday night on charges linked to his alleged involvement in a January car crash that resulted in the deaths of a teammate and team staff member. Police had issued arrest warrants for him.
Carter, 21, faces charges of reckless driving and racing, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department announced earlier on Wednesday.
Records from the Athens-Clarke County Jail show that Carter surrendered at 11:33 p.m. and was released just before midnight on $1,500 bond on the reckless driving count and $2,500 bond on the racing count.
He is accused in connection with an accident initially characterized as a single-vehicle crash near the school's campus on Jan. 15 that killed fellow Georgia football player Devin Willock and team staff member Chandler LeCroy.
LeCroy, a 24-year-old recruiting analyst for the Bulldogs football team and University of Georgia graduate, was driving when the vehicle "left the roadway, striking two power poles and several trees" at around 2:45 a.m., police said in a statement issued directly after the wreck.
Willock, an 20-year-old offensive lineman for the Bulldogs, was in the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. LeCroy was transferred to a nearby hospital where she later died from her injuries, according to police.
A subsequent investigation found that LeCroy, driving a 2021 Ford Expedition, and Carter, driving a 2021 Jeep Trackhawk, "were operating their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing" leading up to the deadly crash, police said Wednesday. Both vehicles had left the downtown Athens area at around 2:30 that morning and proceeded to switch between lanes, drive in the center turn lane and drive "in opposite lanes of travel" while overtaking other motorists while driving at high speeds, "in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other."
Carter acknowledged the warrants in a statement shared on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
"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," Carter wrote. The statement also claimed that some reports about the January crash and charges against him are inaccurate.
"Numerous media reports also have circulated this morning containing inaccurate information concerning the tragic events of January 15, 2023," he said in the statement. "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."
In their announcement Wednesday, Athens-Clarke County police said evidence suggested LeCroy's vehicle was traveling at about 104 mph before the crash and noted that her blood alcohol concentration was 0.197 when the accident occurred.
"Investigators determined that alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving, and speed were significant contributing factors to the crash," police said.
Carter left the scene of the crash before returning, about an hour later, to provide statements to police, CBS Sports reported. Additional interviews reviewed by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reportedly showed Carter misleading prosecutors as to his whereabouts at the time of the accident, first saying he was a mile away when it happened and later acknowledging that he was there, according to the newspaper.
Kirby Smart, the head football coach at the University of Georgia, responded to the arrest warrants in a statement released on Wednesday morning.
"The charges announced today are deeply concerning, especially as we are still struggling to cope with the devastating loss of two beloved members of our community," Smart said. "We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrible tragedy."
Carter is widely considered one of the top prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, with many experts projecting that he will be a top-five pick, according to CBS Sports.
He earned unanimous All-America honors after a standout junior season at Georgia. Carter posted seven tackles for loss and three sacks from the defensive tackle position, standing as a catalyst of Georgia's historic 15-0 campaign.
-- additional reporting by Brian Dakss