Police rescind call that Venus at fault in crash

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Tennis star Venus Williams legally entered an intersection but was cut off by another car, setting off a chain of events that seconds later resulted in a fatal crash with a third car, police say video released Friday shows.

The video, taken by a security camera, shows Williams heading north as she stops her 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV at a stoplight behind a white car as she exits her Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood shortly after 1 p.m. June 9.

When the light turns green, the white car turns left onto a six-lane, heavily traveled boulevard, but Williams heads straight. A dark-colored sedan traveling south turns left in front of her, causing her to stop.

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She then continues straight, reaching the far, westbound lanes, where her SUV is struck in the passenger side by a 2016 Hyundai sedan driven by Linda Barson, who was traveling west.

Palm Beach Gardens police said in a statement Friday that Barson’s light had turned green just before Williams moved in front of her. Barson’s 78-year-old husband, Jerome Barson, died June 22 from injuries suffered in the crash.

Williams, who was not hurt, has not been cited or charged. Police spokesman Maj. Paul Rogers said Friday the video has caused investigators to rescind their original conclusion that Williams was at fault, and said no blame has yet been determined.

Jerome Barson’s estate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams seeking unspecified damages. Linda Barson, 68, is recovering from a cracked sternum, shattered right arm, and broken right wrist, hand and fingers, according to the lawsuit.

The Palm Beach Post reports that attorneys representing Williams and the Barson family agreed at a Friday court hearing on how they will examine the cars, which are being held at a tow yard. The attorneys agreed to exchange data downloaded from the onboard computer systems in their clients’ cars. The data could provide details such as the speed and braking of the vehicles in the seconds before the crash.

Michael Steinger, the attorney for the Barson family, said the video released Friday shows Williams caused the crash by “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,” Steinger said in a statement.

Williams, 37, is now in England competing at Wimbledon, a tournament she has won five times. The 10th-seeded Williams, who advanced to the fourth round Friday, broke down in tears Monday when asked at a news conference about the crash. She briefly left the news conference while making her first public comments since the fatal wreck.

“There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and — yeah,” Williams said. “I’m completely speechless. It’s just — yeah, I mean, I’m just …”

Williams’ attorney, Malcolm Cunningham, disagreed with Steinger’s assessment Friday, saying in his own statement that Linda Barson was at fault.

Williams “had the right to proceed through the intersection and other vehicles including those with a red light changing to green, were obligated to yield the right-of-way,” Cunningham said, adding, “she remains deeply saddened by the loss suffered by the Barson family and continues to keep them in her thoughts and prayers.”

Williams has career on-court earnings of more than $34 million and her own clothing line, EleVen. According to Forbes Magazine, she also has endorsement deals with Ralph Lauren, Kraft foods, Tide detergent and Wilson sporting goods.

ESPN’s Matt Wilansky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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