Surveillance camera video captured the June 9 crash, police say
No criminal charges have been filed in accident where man later died
New evidence shows that tennis star Venus Williams “lawfully” entered a Florida intersection seconds before a fatal crash involving her SUV, police said.
The Palm Beach Gardens police said surveillance video was obtained from the guard gate of a residential community near the intersection after authorities started investigating the June 9 collision that injured Jerome Barson, 78, who later died, and badly injured his wife, Linda.
On the basis of the video, police said in a statement shortly after the crash that, “the vehicle driven by Venus Williams lawfully entered the intersection on a circular green traffic signal, and attempted to travel north through the intersection.”
Williams came to a stop as she traveled north through the intersection “to avoid a collision” when a car going west made a left turn in front of her, according to authorities.
She then continued north, in accordance with state law, before another car collided with her vehicle, police said.
“The vehicle driven by Linda Barson was traveling west on Northlake (Boulevard), in the outside lane, approaching a steady red traffic signal,” the statement said. “The traffic signal then cycled to green, at which time Barson continued westbound and entered the intersection. The front end of Barson’s vehicle collided with the right front of (Williams’) vehicle.”
A police accident report issued earlier said Williams was “at fault for violating the right of way” of the oncoming car. In the statement released Friday, police did not state who was at fault in the wreck.
“The investigation is still underway, and a final determination has not been made at this time,” said Paul Rogers, spokesman with the Palm Beach Gardens police.
No criminal charges have been filed.
Williams’ lawyer, Malcolm Cunningham, said he had not seen the surveillance video but was confident it would prove his client was not at fault.
A lawyer for the Barson family issued this statement: “The video released by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department continues to support the fact that Ms. Williams remained in the intersection at a red light, violating the Barsons’ right of way. There is nothing that disputes Ms. Williams was in the intersection on a red light, and the witnesses clearly confirm the Barsons had a green light and lawfully entered the intersection.”
Two weeks after the crash, Jerome Barson died in a hospital, and his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams, citing negligence.
The lawsuit stated that Barson’s injuries included “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive internal organ damage.”
Earlier this year, Williams’ attorneys filed a protective order, saying they got less than 24 hours’ notice that the Barson family’s counsel was going to download vehicle data from the tennis star’s SUV, CNN affiliate WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach reported.
A judge granted an emergency motion in July that allowed Williams’ SUV to be searched. Both parties were given a chance to download and inspect crash data from the two vehicles involved.
“They are pleased the evidence will be properly examined and preserved and it will prove that Miss Williams is at fault,” said Gary Iscoe, an attorney for the Barson family.
Cunningham, the lawyer for Williams, said the data will help both parties understand how the crash occurred.
“The vehicles involved in the accident are believed to contain critical information within their computer systems,” Cunningham said in a statement. “The motion for protective order ensures both parties have sufficient opportunity for their legal teams to prepare for an inspection and to establish a protocol that will govern the inspection which will ensure extraction of critical information by both parties in a way that preserves the evidence.”
The tennis star, 37, broke down in tears at Wimbledon in July when reporters questioned her about the wreck.
Williams broke down in tears at Wimbledon when reporters questioned her about the wreck.
“There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and – yeah. I’m completely speechless,” Williams said.
She held her head for several moments and asked to leave the room before returning, still visibly shaken, to finish the interview.
CNN’s Jill Martin, Tony Marco, Chloe Melas, Nicole Chavez and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.