Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter, unanimously considered a top-five prospect in the forthcoming 2023 NFL Draft, was booked Wednesday night on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing after turning himself in to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department at 11:33 p.m. ET, posting bond just 16 minutes later. Earlier on Wednesday, Carter had been issued an arrest warrant tying back to a fatal Jan. 15 single-car accident that killed a Georgia football player and recruiting analyst.
Carter returned to the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis on Thursday and will complete measurement and interviews, according to ESPN. He was attendance in Indianapolis earlier this week, though he did not participate in the on-field workout. He met with several teams Tuesday night ahead of the warrant being issued and remained in town undergoing medical testing on Wednesday, though he will did not speak with the media as originally scheduled.
Police initially believed the crash was a single-car accident caused by speeding; however, statements and evidence have since revealed at least two other cars were at the scene -- both driven by Georgia football players. Police have not released surveillance video citing the footage as evidence in an ongoing investigation.
Carter left the scene of the crash for more than an hour before returning to the scene and providing statements to police.
In interviews reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carter misled prosecutors, first claiming he was a mile away from the accident before later acknowledging he was alongside the car that crashed, ultimately killing teammate Devin Willock, 20, and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, 24. The crashed car was traveling more than double the speed limit. Additionally, toxicology reports revealed that LeCroy was driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .197, more than double the legal limit.
"The evidence demonstrated that both vehicles 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, in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other," the ACCPD said in a statement. "Evidence indicated that shortly before the crash, the Expedition was traveling at about 104 miles per hour."
Carter was driving a 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk with a Hellcat V-8 motor during the incident, a vehicle he received as part of an NIL deal with an Ohio luxury car dealership. The Ford Expedition driven by LeCroy was rented by the university for recruiting purposes. LeCroy was not authorized to drive the Expedition. Two additional members of the Georgia football program -- a player and recruiting staffer -- were injured in the accident.
In a prepared statement released on his personal Twitter, Carter said he was notified of the warrant on Wednesday morning and framed media reports as "containing inaccurate information."
"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," Carter said. "There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing."
Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson was also questioned in relation to the Jan. 15 crash after appearing at the scene. Position mate Smael Mondon was reportedly in the car with him. Dumas-Johnson was not charged in relation to this incident but was independently charged with a different street racing violation five days earlier.
"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," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a Wednesday statement. "We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities while supporting these families and assessing what we can learn from this horrible tragedy."
The accident occurred six days after the Dawgs won their second consecutive College Football Playoff National Championship.
Carter earned unanimous All-American honors after a standout junior season at Georgia. He posted seven tackles for loss and three sacks from the defensive tackle position, standing as a catalyst behind Georgia's historic 15-0 campaign.