Florida Police Now Say Venus Williams Didn't Break Law in Fatal Crash They'd Initially Said Was Her Fault
After initially saying tennis star Venus Williams was at fault for the fatal car crash that killed a man, police said Friday she had “lawfully entered the intersection” and told PEOPLE there’s “no final determination” of who was at fault.
“After the initial investigation was conducted, new evidence into the incident was located,” a Palm Beach Gardens Police Department press release states. “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.”
From the beginning, Williams maintained that she had entered the intersection on June 9 on a green light.
But the initial police report, which said Williams, 37, was driving about 5 mph when the crash occurred, alleged Williams was “at fault for violating the right of way of” the other driver.
Now, Palm Beach Gardens police say the investigation is ongoing and it is unclear who is at fault.
The crash occurred on June 9, when Williams’ SUV and the vehicle in which 78-year-old Jerome Barson was a passenger collided. Barson was traveling home from running errands with his wife, Linda Barson, who was driving. After the crash he was taken to a local hospital and died two weeks later.
On Friday, police announced that the investigation confirmed both drivers’ accounts of what happened.
According to the press release, Williams, traveling north, entered the intersection on a green light. But because of heavy traffic, she became held up in the intersection when another car “entered the intersection traveling south, and made a left turn in front of William’s vehicle, causing her to stop advancing through the intersection to avoid a collision.”
During that time, Barson’s light turned green.
Moments later, Linda Barson drove through the same intersection on a green light and T-boned Williams’ vehicle, the press release states.
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Last week Williams became emotional and briefly left a post-match Wimbledon press conference after she was asked about the crash. The 37-year-old broke down in tears as she struggled to find the words to respond to a reporter’s question about the deadly crash.
“There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating,” she said before burying her chin in her hand. “I am completely speechless and it’s just — yeah, I just.”
On Wednesday, William’s lawyers obtained an emergency protective order after the victim’s family requested to inspect and download data from the vehicle in which Barson was a passenger.
According to the Barson family’s attorney, Michael Steinger, the family hopes gathering as much information as possible will answer their questions and give them closure.
“It’s a 35 year marriage, the love of her life, and he ultimately ended up passing away on Linda Barson’s 68th birthday,” Steinger tells PEOPLE. “This has been devastating to their family.”
Williams’ attorney, Malcolm Cunningham, could not immediately be reached for comment.