By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
Georgia football player Devin Willock was not wearing a seat belt when he was ejected from the vehicle in a weekend crash that killed him and a recruiting staff member, police said.
A police report released Tuesday listed excessive speed on a road with a 40 mph (64 kph) limit as one of the primary causes of the crash.
The wreck occurred at 2:45 a.m. Sunday in Athens, less than two miles from the university campus. A few hours earlier, the Bulldogs held a parade through town and a ceremony at Sanford Stadium honoring their second straight national championship.
The 20-year-old Willock, an offensive lineman for the Bulldogs, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 24-year-old recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, died shortly after being taken to a hospital.
Two other people were in the car, including offensive lineman Warren McClendon, who had just announced Saturday he will enter the NFL draft.
Like LeCroy, McClendon was wearing a shoulder and lap restraint while seated in the right front passenger seat, police said. He sustained only minor injuries, which the report from Athens-Clarke County police described as a laceration on the forehead.
Another member of the Georgia football staff, Victoria Bowles, was hospitalized with serious injuries. She was sitting in the backseat with Willock and not wearing a seat belt, the report said.
Police investigators said the 2021 Ford Expedition “failed to negotiate a left curve, resulting in the vehicle striking the curb with its front passenger tire and leaving the roadway on the west shoulder.”
The SUV struck a Georgia Power pole and another utility pole, slicing them in half, before striking a tree on the rear passenger quarter panel. That sent the vehicle spinning in a clockwise direction before it slammed into another tree on the driver’s side — where both LeCroy and Willock were sitting.
“This caused the vehicle to rotate counter-clockwise prior to achieving final rest against an apartment building,” the report said, adding that a vehicle parked in front of a unit also was struck by the out-of-control SUV.
The report said no alcohol or drug test was conducted on LeCroy, though the investigation was continuing. Investigators did not give an estimated speed, nor did they know the driver’s condition at the time of the crash.
The report also listed other, unspecified factors as contributors.
The crash suddenly turned a festive mood on the Georgia campus into one of grief.
“Best roommate, teammate, and brother I could ever ask for. I don’t even have words,” Xavier Truss, who played alongside Willock on the offensive line, wrote on Twitter. “Wish I could hear that goofy laugh one last time. Heaven gained a good one. Love you forever Dev.”
Willock was a 6-foot-7, 335-pound redshirt sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey.
He played extensively as a backup during the 2022 season and started at right guard in Southeastern Conference victories over Tennessee and Kentucky.
With McClendon and offensive lineman Warren Ericson both headed to the NFL draft, Willock likely would have been competing for a starting position in 2023 as the Bulldogs go for a third straight national title.
Football programs around the country expressed their condolences. Nebraska posted the names of both Willock and LeCroy on the video board at Memorial Stadium.
“Our Hearts are Heavy Today. No words only prayers for (Georgia athletics) and the families of Devin and Chandler,” Cornhuskers coach Matt Rhule tweeted.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart posted pictures of both victims on Twitter a few hours after the crash.
“Miss you already,” he wrote of Willock. “Thinking of you tonight, Devin.”
Smart said of LeCroy: “Gone far too soon. Chandler, I will always remember you for your kind heart.”
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