Venus Williams, other driver cleared in fatal crash
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — No charges will be filed against tennis star Venus Williams or the other driver for a crash in June that fatally injured the other driver’s husband, police said Wednesday.
The Palm Beach Gardens police report said an unidentified third vehicle illegally cut off Williams as she tried to cross a busy six-lane highway near her home, setting off a chain of events that ended with a sedan driven by Linda Barson, 68, slamming into the passenger side of Williams’ SUV.
Barson’s 78-year-old husband, Jerome, died 13 days after the June 9 crash and she suffered a broken arm and other injuries. Williams, 38, was not hurt. Jerome Barson’s estate had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams, seeking unspecified damages.
Officer David Dowling, the lead investigator, said in his report that video from a nearby security camera shows Williams legally entered the intersection from a road exiting her gated neighborhood on a green light. As she started to cross, a dark sedan cut her off, forcing her to stop. When the sedan cleared her path, Williams began moving forward in her 2010 Toyota Sequoia but that put her in the path of the Barsons, who now had the green light. The Barsons’ 2016 Hyundai Accent hit Williams’ SUV at 40 mph (65 kph).
Dowling said in his report that state law required Williams to exit the intersection and that even though Linda Barson had the green light she was obligated to make sure the intersection was clear.
The Barson family’s attorney, Michael Steinger, said Dowling’s conclusions are wrong and the suit will be pursued.
“Ms. Williams clearly violated our client’s right of way because our client had a green light, as indicated in each and every police report issued in this case to date,” Steinger said in a statement. “The report is further inaccurate because the video surveillance does not indicate the color of Ms. Williams’ light and therefore does not support the police department’s conclusion.”
Williams’ attorney, Malcolm Cunningham, didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.
Williams, the older sister of tennis star Serena Williams, has won seven Grand Slam titles, including five at her favorite tournament, Wimbledon.
Weeks after the crash, Williams competed at Wimbledon, losing in the finals on July 15 to Garbine Muguruza. Williams broke down in tears when asked at a tournament press conference about the crash and Jerome Barson’s death.
She has career on-court earnings of nearly $40 million, her own clothing line and endorsement deals with Ralph Lauren, Kraft foods, Tide detergent and Wilson sporting goods. She also owns a small percentage of the Miami Dolphins.