By Hannah Sarisohn and Wayne Sterling, CNN
University of Georgia football player Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy were killed in a single car crash early Sunday just hours after their team celebrated its national championship with a victory parade and celebration, according to a statement from the UGA Athletic Association.
Willock, 20, and LeCroy, 24, were among four people in the vehicle at the time of the crash, which happened around 2:45 a.m. on Sunday not far from the UGA campus in Athens, according to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
LeCroy was driving when the 2021 Ford Expedition left the road and struck two power poles and several trees, police said. Willock died on scene and LeCroy died later after being taken to a hospital, police said.
A 26-year-old female passenger suffered serious injuries in the crash while a 21-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries, according to police. The university said the two injured passengers were connected with the football program but did not identify them.
The Athens Banner-Herald later reported that University of Georgia starting offensive tackle Warren McClendon was a passenger in the car.
The UGA Athletics Association paid tribute to Willock and LeCroy.
“Devin and Chandler were two special people who meant so much to the University of Georgia, our football program and our athletic department,” the association said in a statement. “We ask that everyone keep their families in your prayers during this very difficult time.”
Willock, a redshirt sophomore from New Milford, New Jersey, played on the offensive line in all 15 of the team’s games this year, according to Georgia’s football roster.
“We are all heartbroken and devastated with the loss of Devin Willock 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, was a great teammate and a joy to coach. Chandler was a valuable member of our football staff and brought an incredible attitude and energy every single day. We grieve with their families for this tragic loss and will support them in every way possible,” the coach added.
The Athens Banner-Herald reported that McClendon received stitches to the forehead as a result of the accident, citing the football player’s father, Warren McClendon Senior.
“Lil Warren was in the car that was involved in the accident and he is doing well,” his father, Warren Sr. told the Athens Banner-Herald via text message on Sunday afternoon. “We are asking everyone to pray for Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy’s family. We are with lil Warren and will let everyone know more later. Thank you for your prayers.”
The Banner-Herald went on to quote the father as saying McClendon was “devastated by the loss of his roommate and close friend.”
CNN has reached out to both the University of Georgia and Warren McClendon Senior for further comment.
The fatal crash came after a day of celebration as UGA players, coaches and fans packed into Sanford Stadium in honor of their second straight national championship.
At a Texas Roadhouse in Athens on Saturday, a 7-year-old Georgia fan named Camdyn Gonzales met Willock and took a photo together. The 6-foot-7-inch, 335-pound lineman gave the boy a fistbump and let him wear his enormous 2021 national championship ring.
“Special thank u to @DevinWillock for taking time for my grandson when he didn’t have to. U went out of ur way to make him feel special and U made his day!! Good luck next year! Go Dawgs!” the boy’s grandfather, Sam Kramer, wrote in a tweet.
Camdyn was star-struck after meeting one of his heroes, the grandfather said. Willock, meanwhile, seemed “so full of life and just happy,” Kramer added. “He was humble and very appreciative that we knew who he was and wanted to talk to him.”
Former Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis, now with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, said in a tweet he was heartbroken. “Watching them grow and become like family over these few years. There is no grief without love, and we love both of you like family,” he wrote.
Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith said the deaths “hurt my heart man, all I have to say the GREAT ONES LEAVE TO SOON,” he wrote on Twitter. “@DevinWillock I LOVE YOU FOREVER.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the injuries of the surviving passengers. The female passenger suffered serious injuries while the male passenger had minor injuries.
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CNN’s Isabel Rosales, David Williams and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.