UGA Athletic Association faces lawsuit after fatal car accident
ATHENS, Georgia — The University of Georgia Athletic Association is facing a lawsuit filed by Victoria Bowles, a former recruiting analyst at the university. Bowles survived a fatal car accident on January 15 that killed a UGA football player and a recruiter. The lawsuit also names Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Carter, who police allege was driving the SUV being driven by the recruiter at the time of the accident.
The lawsuit, filed in Gwinnett County state court, alleges negligence by the UGA sports association and contradicts public statements by Bulldogs football coach Kirby Smart and other officials. Those officers claimed that recruiter Chandler LeCroy should not have been driving the leased SUV when it went off the road and struck trees and utility poles.
According to the lawsuit, LeCroy informed Bowles that she had permission to keep the SUV until the next day. Text messages between LeCroy, Bowles and other staff indicate that recruiting staff were routinely permitted to park their personal vehicles at the football facility overnight and use club rental vehicles up to a specified date and time, regardless of their assigned duties.
The lawsuit also alleges that the sports governing body acted negligently in allowing LeCroy to drive the SUV while on duty. Bowles’ attorneys allege that sports officials were aware of LeCroy’s history of speeding, including two “superspeeder” violations under Georgia law. The lawsuit alleges that LeCroy’s supervisor was in the car with her when she received her last Super Speeder ticket on Oct. 30.
Police reports indicate that LeCroy’s SUV was speeding at least 104.2 miles per hour at the time of the accident and had been traveling 45 seconds or less with another SUV driven by Jalen Carter. In addition, LeCroy’s blood alcohol concentration was nearly two and a half times the legal limit in Georgia.
The lawsuit argues that the UGA Athletic Association should have known that LeCroy regularly drove at extreme speeds and was a reckless and habitual speeder. The association’s decision to entrust her with a large rental SUV, despite this knowledge, is believed to have contributed to the crash.
In response to the lawsuit, the Georgia Athletic Association issued a statement saying it was reviewing the complaint and disputing its claims. They intend to vigorously represent the interests of the association in court.
The lawsuit also alleges that Jalen Carter left the scene of the crime without speaking to law enforcement or providing assistance. The lawsuit alleges that Carter knew he was responsible for the accident but left the scene in less than 10 minutes. The lawsuit suggests Carter’s exit motivation was fear of bad publicity and how it might affect his NFL draft status.
Carter pleaded no contest to the reckless driving and racing allegations and was sentenced to probation, a fine, community service and a defensive driving course. He was picked by the Philadelphia Eagles as the ninth pick in this year’s NFL draft.
The lawsuit filed by Bowles also seeks damages from LeCroy’s estate. Bowles has incurred over $170,000 in medical expenses and suffered a likely permanent disability. Her injuries include fractures, broken bones, lacerations and internal bleeding. She also suffered neurological damage and severe eye pain.
Bowles’ attorney, Rob Buck, hopes the detailed allegations in the lawsuit will shed light on what really happened that night. Bowles is deeply saddened by the loss of Devin and Chandler and appreciates the prayers, love and support she has received throughout her difficult recovery.
This is the second lawsuit filed against the UGA Athletic Association in connection with the car accident. In May, Willock’s father sued the club, Carter and other defendants, seeking $40 million in damages.
As the court proceeds, it remains to be seen how the UGA Athletic Association will respond to these allegations and what impact they will have on the university’s reputation.