Following the University of Georgia’s national championship win, police are now investigating a fatal car accident early Sunday that killed football player Devin Willock and associate Chandler LeCroy just hours after the Bulldogs’ triumphant celebration with fans , the 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 and crashed into two power poles and several trees, Athens police reported. —Clarke County Department said in a release.
Willock died at the scene and LeCroy died after being taken to a hospital, police said. According to her LinkedIn, LeCroy was a football recruiting analyst for UGA.
A 26-year-old female passenger was seriously injured and a 21-year-old male passenger suffered minor injuries, according to police. The university confirmed that the two surviving passengers are also members of the football program, but did not identify them.
However, the Athens Banner-Herald reported on Sunday that the Bulldogs’ offensive tackle Warren McClendon was the male passenger, citing the player’s father. The father told the newspaper that McClendon needed stitches on his forehead but was “doing fine”.
Earlier Saturday afternoon, Sanford Stadium and the surrounding streets were filled with ecstatic fans who had come to celebrate the Bulldogs’ second consecutive national championship. But the next morning they had joined the team mourning the sudden loss of Willock and LeCroy.
Die-hard fan Daniel Dewitt attended Saturday’s victory parade and told CNN that Willock was “cheerful and happy” as the team passed throngs of supporters draped in red and black.
“It’s just heartbreaking to come out of a festive week. And the parade yesterday, to see this player and then find out early this morning that he lost his life, the entire Bulldog nation is at its wits’ end,” Dewitt said.
Photos of the crash site taken by local residents show how a wooden utility pole broke in half and the car’s frame collapsed against an apartment building.
“That car dented like a can,” Cecily Pangburn, a resident of the apartment complex, told CNN. She described hearing a loud bang as the crash occurred, followed by her power going out.
The investigation into the accident is ongoing, police said. The detective has asked anyone who has requested information to contact the authorities.
The two young UGA team members were remembered by several university leaders as vibrant and valued attendees of the football program.
“Devin was an outstanding young man in every way. He was always smiling, a great teammate and a pleasure to coach,” head football coach Kirby Smart said in a statement on Sunday.
“Chandler was a valuable member of our football staff, bringing incredible attitude and energy to every day,” said Smart.
Support for the Bulldogs also poured in on Sunday from across the college football community, including from head coaches Brian Kelly from Louisiana State University and Hugo Freeze from Auburn University.
“These two special people meant everything to our football program and our athletic department,” UGA athletics director Josh Brooks said in a statement. pronunciation. “We are working with our medical staff and mental health and performance team to ensure that our staff and student-athletes receive 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 played on the offensive line in all 15 of the team’s games this year.
The player spent Saturday with fans, enjoying last week’s championship win victory. But one fan in particular got some quality time with Willock in the hours before his death.
Willock met star-struck 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 made the boy try on his massive 2021 championship ring.
“He was humbled and very grateful that we knew who he was and wanted to talk to him,” said Camdyn’s grandfather, Sam Kramer, adding that Willock seemed “so alive and just happy.”
Dewitt, the fan who saw Willock in the parade on Saturday, told CNN he has a tattoo for the 2021 UGA Championship and plans to get a matching tattoo for this season’s win. This time, he said, Willock’s number, 77, will be there.