Although a Florida police department originally blamed tennis superstar Venus Williams for a fatal car crash that took place on June 9, new video footage has caused them to rescind their initial assessment. Now, Palm Beach Gardens police are saying that Williams “lawfully entered the intersection” in a tragic accident that eventually resulted in the death of 78-year-old Jerome Barson.
The Associated Press reported last month that witnesses told investigators that Williams ran a red light and caused the Hyundai Accent driven by Jerome Barson’s wife, Linda, to crash into her SUV. But Williams’ account differed: she said that she entered the six-lane intersection during a green light but was forced to stop in the middle due to traffic in front of her. Police estimate Williams was traveling at around five miles per hour when Barson’s vehicle crashed into hers. Williams said she didn’t see the car coming.
Linda Barson was badly injured in the crash, but her husband sustained critical injuries that led to his death two weeks following the accident. Unfortunately, 1.2 million people worldwide die in car accidents every year. Barson’s family has filed a wrongful death suit against Williams on the grounds of negligence. The suit asserts that his fatal injuries included “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive organ damage.”
But upon further inspection, video footage shows that Williams may not have been at fault.
As reported by USA Today, police explained in a statement:
“Based on the evidence obtained in the ongoing investigation, it has been determined the vehicle driven by Venus Williams lawfully entered the intersection on a circular green traffic signal, and attempted to travel north through the intersection to Ballenisles Drive. As Williams was traveling through the intersection, a Nissan Altima entered the intersection traveling south, and made a left turn in front of Williams’ vehicle, causing her to stop advancing through the intersection to avoid a collision. 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 the right front of Williams’ vehicle.”
An initial police report noted that Williams had violated the Barsons’ right of way, but in the official statement, there was no mention of who was at fault for the accident.
This investigation is ongoing and no criminal charges have been filed. When asked about the incident at a press conference following her Wimbledon match, Williams broke down in tears. The seven-time Grand Slam champion has expressed her devastation and heartbreak pertaining to the accident on social media.