Early Sunday, University of Georgia football player Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy were killed in a single-car crash. The UGA Athletic Association reported that the accident came just hours after their team celebrated its national championship with a victory parade and celebration. The turn of events from celebration and joy for the Bulldogs’ second national championship quickly turned to mourning over the sudden loss of two young community members.
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 went off the road. The four passengers in the car whirled into two power poles and several trees, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department said in a news release.
The crash occurred just beyond a curved section of Barnett Shoals Road. The speed limit is 40 mph, and there is a sidewalk but no barrier on the outer edge of the road.
Willock was ejected from the vehicle and died on the scene. None of the other passengers were ejected,” according to police Lt. Shaun Barnett. LeCroy died after being taken to a hospital, police said.
Willock was a redshirt sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey, who joined the team as a freshman in 2020. He played on the offensive line in all 15 of the team’s games this past season. LeCroy’s LinkedIn provides that she was a football recruiting analyst for UGA.
The two passengers injured in the crash were identified as Georgia offensive lineman Warren McClendon, 21, who received minor injuries, and Victoria Bowles, 26, who had severe injuries, according to police.
McClendon, who started at correct tackle for Georgia this season, declared for the NFL draft earlier Saturday. Warren McClendon Sr.’s father told the Athens Banner-Herald he needed stitches on his forehead but is “doing well.”
Willock’s aunt and uncle, Cicely and Normal Stout, said their nephew was well liked and doing well in school. “He was doing very well. He was very loved by all his peers and all the teachers and all the coaches,” Cicely Stout said.
“Devin is always smiling, no matter what. Devin has a smile on his face and he was doing very well in academics. He was doing very good. He was good, very good student, very good person.” Willock’s older brother, Jonathan Wheatley, died in 2009 at the age of 20 from injuries sustained in a similar car crash, Cicely Stout said.
Photos of the crash site taken by nearby residents capture a wooden power pole snapped in half and the car’s frame crumpled against an apartment building in Shoals Creek, about two miles from UGA’s campus.
Resident Jonathan D’Souza, said he was the first person to respond to the crash scene. He told CNN he was watching television when he felt the ground shake and heard what sounded like gunshots outside his apartment. As he went outside to investigate, it was pitch black because the power had gone out. Sparks flying from dangling power lines in the middle of the street alerted him to the mangled car smashed into his neighbor’s house, he said.
D’Souza found Willock lying face down next to the vehicle. He began screaming at an unresponsive Willock, asking if he was okay. “It was the most helpless feeling because you wish you could save him, but you know he’s already gone,” D’Souza said.
Police said the investigation into the crash is ongoing and they give their support to the families. University members remembered the two UGA team members as lively and valued additions to the football program.
“Devin was an outstanding young man in every way. He was always smiling, was a great teammate and a joy to coach,” head football coach Kirby Smart said in a statement Sunday. “Chandler was a valuable member of our football staff and brought an incredible attitude and energy every single day.”
“These two special people meant the world to our football program and athletic department,” UGA athletics director Josh Brooks said in a statement. “We are working with our medical staff and mental health and performance team to ensure our staff and student-athletes have all the support they need during this extremely difficult time.”
Daniel Dewitt, a local UGA fan, told CNN that Willock was “upbeat and happy.” Dewitt he has a 2021 UGA championship tattoo and plans to get a matching one for this season’s victory. This time, he said, it will feature Willock’s number, 77.