The father of a University of Georgia football player killed in a car crash has filed a lawsuit against the university’s athletic association and others, including first-round NFL draft pick and former teammate Jalen Carter.
The lawsuit from Dave Willock Sr., the father of Devin Willock, was filed in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Devin Willock was a passenger in an SUV allegedly racing with another vehicle driven by Jalen Carter near the university’s Athens campus on January 15, according to authorities, and was killed after the SUV went off the road and barreled into two power poles and several trees. The crash happened just hours after the team celebrated its national championship title at a victory parade.
The estate of Chandler LeCroy, a football team staff member who was also killed in the crash, is named in the suit as a defendant. LeCroy was driving the SUV Willock was in at the time of the crash.
The suit claims that the University of Georgia Athletic Association “negligently hired, supervised, trained, and retained LeCroy despite their direct, actual knowledge of her poor driving habits including prior notice of her excessively speeding in vehicles.”
The suit also cites LeCroy’s and Carter’s participation in the street racing that led up to the fatal crash and claims Carter “unlawfully left the scene of the fatal collision,” and didn’t return for more than an hour until requested to do so by another athletic association employee on behalf of police.
“Defendants LeCroy’s and Carter’s conduct shows reckless, wilful, wanton, and consciously indifferent conduct to the consequences in the collision resulting in the death of Devin Willock,” the lawsuit says.
The suit is seeking $40 million from the defendants, including $10 million from Carter.
In a statement obtained by CNN, the athletic association said, “The attorneys who filed the Complaint have refused to provide any factual basis for their claims against the Athletic Association, and we believe the evidence will prove them to be without merit. We intend to strongly dispute these baseless allegations in Court.”
CNN has reached out to the attorney representing the estate of LeCroy as well as Carter’s agent for comment on the lawsuit.
Crash occurred en route to a Waffle House, lawsuit says
The SUV driven by LeCroy and carrying Willock and two other passengers was one of several vehicles leased by the athletic department for use during recruiting activities “only,” and personal use was “strictly prohibited,” according to a January statement from the athletic association.
The two other passengers in the vehicle were injured in the crash, officials said.
Police have said alcohol appeared to be a factor, with toxicology results showing LeCroy had a blood alcohol concentration of .197, which is more than twice the legal limit in Georgia.
Other companies and individuals named as defendants in the lawsuit – citing information from authorities – include those that provided the vehicle Carter was driving as well as a strip club that served alcohol to some of those involved before the crash, including LeCroy, the suit claims.
Carter was not listed as among those at the strip club, allegedly telling police he met the others involved at a Waffle House and they were headed to a second Waffle House location when the crash occurred, the lawsuit says.
“Carter and LeCroy mutually stimulated or goaded each other to exceed the posted speed limit while racing enroute to the Waffle House,” the lawsuit says.
Carter spoke to police the night of the crash, according to Athens-Clarke County police, and surrendered to authorities in March after charges of racing and reckless driving were filed. He entered pleas of no contest later that month, according to his attorney, Kim Stephens.
Carter was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine and 50 hours of community service and completion of a state-approved defensive driving course. Athens-Clarke County Solicitor General Will Fleenor confirmed Carter’s privilege to drive in Georgia was suspended for 120 days.
“Mr. Carter is happy and relieved to get this matter behind him, so now he can do what he needs to do for the NFL draft,” Stephens said following the March court proceedings. “He continues to grieve for the loss of his friends.”
In April, Carter – a standout defensive player who helped guide the Bulldogs to their second college football national championship in two years – was drafted as the ninth-overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Willock played on the offensive line in all 15 of the team’s games in their run to the title. LeCroy was a football recruiting analyst for the team, according to her LinkedIn profile.
CNN’s Jacob Lev, Melissa Alonso and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.