Carter posts bond on fatal crash charges, returns to NFL combine
Top NFL draft prospect Jalen Carter was booked at 11:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday night on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department confirmed, according to NFL Network's James Palmer.
The charges against Carter stem from a Jan. 15 crash that killed a Georgia teammate and staff member hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their second straight national championship with a parade and ceremony.
The former Georgia defensive lineman was released at 11:49 p.m. after posting a $4,000 bond.
Carter, who left the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday to return to Athens, came back to the combine Thursday to finish interviews, measurements, and other activities, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Arrest warrants were issued for Carter on Wednesday. Carter and Chandler LeCroy, the Georgia staffer killed in the crash, were "operating their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing," according to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department's investigation. The two "switched between lanes, drove in the center turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists, and drove at high rates of speed."
LeCroy and Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock were killed in the wreck after LeCroy's Ford Expedition "left the roadway, striking two power poles and several trees," police said in January. Willock was announced dead at the scene, while LeCroy died from her injuries after being transported to the hospital.
A toxicology report indicated that LeCroy's blood alcohol concentration was .197 at the time of the crash. The police department's investigation ruled that alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving, and speed were significant factors in the crash.
Carter released a statement Wednesday stating he would answer the charges.
"It is my intention to return to Athens to answer the misdemeanor charges against me and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented," he wrote. "There is no question in my mind that when all the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing."
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said the program will continue to work with the authorities in light of the warrants issued for Carter.
"The charges announced today are deeply concerning, especially as we are still struggling to cope with the devastating loss of two beloved members of our community," Smart wrote in a statement Wednesday. "We will continue to cooperate with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrible tragedy."
Many analysts projected Carter to go first overall in the 2023 draft.