University of Georgia football player Devin Wheelock and staff member Chandler LeCroy were killed in a single-vehicle crash early Sunday morning just hours after their team celebrated its national championship with a victory parade and celebration, the UGA Athletic Association said in a statement.
Wheelock, 20, and LeCroy, 24, were one of four people in the car at the time of the crash, which happened around 2:45 a.m. Sunday not far from the UGA campus in Athens, according to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. .
Police said LeCroy was driving when a 2021 Ford Expedition left the road and struck two utility poles and several trees. Police said Wheelock died at the scene and LeCroy died later after being taken to a hospital.
According to the police, a 21-year-old male and a 26-year-old female passenger were seriously injured as a result of the accident. The university said the two injured passengers were affiliated with the football program, but did not identify them.
“Devin and Chandler were two special people who meant so much to the University of Georgia, our football program and our athletic department,” the UGA Athletic Association said in a statement. “We ask that everyone keep their families in your prayers at this very difficult time.”
Willock, a redshirt sophomore from New Milford, N.J., has played in all 15 games on the offensive line this year, according to the Georgia football roster.
“We are all heartbroken and devastated by the loss of Devin Wheelock and Chandler LeCroy,” UGA head football coach Kirby Smart said in a statement Sunday morning.
“Devin was an outstanding young man in every way. He was always smiling, a great teammate and a joy to coach. Chandler was a valuable member of our football staff and brought incredible attitude and energy every day. We sympathize with their families for this tragic loss and will support them in every way,” the coach added.
The fatal crash followed a celebration as UGA players, coaches and fans gathered at Sanford Stadium in honor of their second straight national championship.
Georgia fan Camdin Gonzalez, 7, met Wheelock and posed for a photo together at the Texas Roadhouse in Athens on Saturday. The 6-foot-7-inch, 335-pound lineman punched the guy and let him wear his massive 2021 national championship ring.
“Special thanks to @DevinWillock for making time for my grandson when he didn’t have to. You went out of your way to make her feel special and you made her day. Good luck next year! Go to the Dogs.’ The boy’s grandfather, Sam Cramer, tweeted:
Camdin was star struck after meeting one of his heroes, the grandfather said. Meanwhile, Wheelock seemed “so full of life and just happy,” Kramer added. “He was humble and very grateful that we knew who he was and wanted to talk to him.”
Former Georgia quarterback Jordan Davis, now with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, said the tweet he was heartbroken. “Watching them grow and become like family over these few years. There is no grief without love, and we love you both like family,” he wrote.
Georgia quarterback Nolan Smith said the deaths “break my heart, all I have to say is THE BIG ONES GO SOON.” he tweeted. “@DevinWillock I LOVE YOU FOREVER!”