"We believe that she lawfully and legally entered the intersection as she did so on a green light," Venus Williams' attorney Malcolm Cunningham tells PEOPLE

By Harriet Sokmensuer
June 30, 2017 12:46 PM
WTA Elite Trophy 2015 - Day 7
Credit: Zhong Zhi/Getty

Venus Williams defended the tennis star to PEOPLE after the fatal car crash that Florida police have said was the tennis star’s fault.

According to CNN and the Associated Press, a Palm Beach Gardens police report states Williams ran a red light at an intersection on June 9, causing a crash that injured 78-year-old Jerome Barson.

Barson, who was sitting in the passenger seat as his wife Linda drove, was taken to a local hospital and admitted into the ICU, where he died two weeks later.

According to Linda Barson’s account, she was driving through an intersection on a green light when Williams’ SUV, which was driving perpendicular, cut in front of Barson, causing Barson to T-bone Williams, CNN reports.

However, Williams told police she had entered the intersection on a green light but, because of heavy traffic, became held up in the intersection as the light turned to red, the Associated Press reports.

The police report showed Williams was driving about 5 mph when the crash occurred. The report states Williams “is at fault for violating the right of way of” the other driver.

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Williams’ attorney, Malcolm Cunningham, reaffirms the account Williams’ gave to police: He says Williams was driving slowly through the intersection because of traffic when Barson, who he says was going an estimated 25 mph, entered the intersection.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Cunningham said, “Ms. Williams entered the intersection on a green light. The police report estimates that Ms. Williams was traveling at 5 miles per hour when Mrs. Barson crashed into her. Authorities did not issue Ms. Williams with any citations or traffic violations. This is an unfortunate accident and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one.”

Speaking with PEOPLE, Cunningham says, “We believe that she lawfully and legally entered the intersection as she did so on a green light, so that’s our position. But that still doesn’t take away from her expression of condolences to that family.”

As the Barson family grieves, a Palm Beach Gardens police official tells PEOPLE they have launched an investigation into the crash.

Linda Barson was also taken to a local hospital after breaking several bones. Williams did not suffer any significant injuries, Cunningham says. Both vehicles had to be towed.

The crash, which took place shortly after 1 p.m., Cunningham tells PEOPLE, occurred on a route Williams regularly takes when heading home.

Palm Beach Gardens police officials could not comment further on the crash, citing the ongoing investigation. Michael Steinger, the Barson’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.

“[Venus] is greatly concerned about the Barsons losing a loved one and obviously extends her deepest sympathy,” Cunningham says. “She expresses her sincerest condolences for the loss that this family has suffered.”

Williams is scheduled to play in Wimbledon on Monday.