Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer July 13, 2023, 11:43 a.m. ET
CloseSenior college football writer Author of seven books on college football Graduate of the University of Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. — Victoria Bowles, who survived a fatal car crash that killed a University of Georgia football player and recruited staff on Jan. 15, has filed a lawsuit against UGA Athletic Association and Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Carter, who accused police of staff-driven SUV racing recruitment when broken.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Gwinnett County on Wednesday by Bowles, a former recruiting analyst for the university, accuses the UGA athletic association of negligence and contradicts public statements by Bulldogs football coach Kirby Smart and other officials, who claim recruiting staff Chandler LeCroy shouldn’t have been driving his rental SUV when it veered off the road and hit a tree and a utility pole.
The accident happened hours after Georgia celebrated its second straight national championship with a parade on campus. After the accident, the athletics association issued a statement saying in part that “the hired vehicle must be turned over immediately after the end of recruiting duties.”
“On Championships Celebration night, LeCroy told Ms. Bowles that he [LeCroy] have a ‘clearance’ to store the SUV ‘until tomorrow,'” the lawsuit states. Recruiting staff are regularly notified that they can leave their personal vehicles overnight at the Butts-Mehre football facility and freely use the Association’s rented vehicles past a cut-off date and time. specified time, unrelated to the recruiting activity task assigned to them.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the athletic association neglected to allow LeCroy to drive the SUV during his duties. Lawyers for Bowles argued that athletic officials were aware that “LeCroy has at least four speeding tickets, including two ‘super speeder’ offenses under Georgia law.” The lawsuit claims LeCroy’s supervisor was in the car when he received his newest super speeder ticket on Oct. 30 while driving home from the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, Florida.
The lawsuit says the LeCroy SUV was traveling at least 104.2 mph when it crashed and had been racing other SUVs Carter was driving for 45 seconds or less. Police said LeCroy’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.197, nearly 2½ times the legal limit in Georgia.
“The UGA Athletic Association would reasonably conclude that LeCroy regularly drove at extreme speeds in the absence of law enforcement,” the lawsuit states. “While LeCroy may have been legally drunk, the proximate cause of the accident was street racing and extreme speed. The Association’s negligent admission of a large rental SUV to LeCroy, with the knowledge that he was a reckless man and used to speeding, concurred with LeCroy’s ultimate negligence – traveling 104.2 mph.”
In a statement Thursday, the Georgia Athletic Association said: “We are continuing to review the complaint, as plaintiff’s counsel chose to share it with the media before sharing it with us. Based on our initial review, we dispute its claims and will vigorously defend the interests of the Athletics Association in court.”
The lawsuit alleges Carter illegally left the scene without speaking to law enforcement and failing to provide assistance.
“Although LeCroy’s passenger, [former Georgia offensive lineman Warren McClendon]stating to him that he could not find Devin Willock, Defendant Carter left the scene after less than 10 minutes when another UGA football player on the scene shouted at him: ‘Yo…hey, JC…you might want to go ahead and leave get the f—- on yo….'” the lawsuit claimed.
“As Defendant Carter knew at the time, he was co-responsible for the accident, and had a legal obligation to remain at the scene. Conversely, a clear part of fearing the bad publicity and the effect it would have on his NFL draft status, he wished not to to be questioned or held responsible for his actions.”
Carter did not enter the contest on March 16 on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. He was sentenced to 12 months probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service and will be taking a state-approved defensive driving course.
Carter was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Eagles in this year’s NFL draft.
Bowles’ lawsuit is also seeking damages from the LeCroy estate. According to Bowles’ lawyers, he has incurred more than $170,000 in medical expenses and suffers from “possibly permanent disability”. Among his injuries included in the lawsuit are three broken lumbar bones, five broken vertebrae, 10 broken ribs, broken collarbone, broken and fractured teeth, kidney and liver lacerations, punctured and collapsed lung and stomach bleeding.
The lawsuit said Bowles also suffered a closed head injury, which caused nerve damage and severe eye pain, and according to his neurosurgeon, significant damage to the membranes surrounding the nerves of his spinal cord, which could develop into permanent paralysis.
“We hope that everyone reviews the detailed allegations in the Complaint to understand accurately what really happened that night,” Bowles’ attorney, Rob Buck, said in a statement to ESPN. “Tory is deeply saddened by the loss of Devin and Chandler. She is so appreciative of the prayers, love and support she has received during her difficult recovery.
“She would like to thank her entire medical team, as well as Ron Courson, who work with Tory and her physical injuries every day. Tory is disappointed that her Association and insurance company have forced her to file a lawsuit to deal with an injury that changed her life.”
This is the second lawsuit filed against the UGA Athletic Association in relation to the wreck. In May, Willock’s father sued the athletic association, Carter, and other defendants. Willock’s father is seeking $40 million in damages.