Last month, seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams was reported at fault in a fatal car crash that caused the death of Jerome Barson of West Palm Beach and injured his wife, Linda Barson. But recently released surveillance footage from a guard shack revealed that Williams had “lawfully” entered the intersection where the crash occurred on the afternoon of June 9, sources say.
The footage was released by Palm Beach Gardens police last week, and it reportedly shows Williams had a green light when she drove her SUV into the intersection of BallenIsles Drive and Northlake Boulevard.
The video shows Linda Barson, 67, westbound in a Hyundai Accent on Northlake Boulevard. She had a red light when she approached the intersection, but it purportedly turned green just as she entered the intersection and that caused her to crash into William’s vehicle.
Ms. Barson told police that she didn’t see Williams’ SUV as she entered the intersection and wasn’t able to stop without causing an accident. She shattered her right arm, cracked her sternum, and broke her wrist, hand, and fingers. Her husband Jerome, 78, suffered head trauma and was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center where he died a two weeks later. Williams was not injured in the crash.
Williams told investigators that she was attempting to drive through the intersection but there was a traffic jam that forced her to slow down and block the right of way. Investigators initially announced that Williams was at fault for violating Ms. Barson’s right of way, but they did not issue Williams with any citations.
Following that announcement, the Barson family filed a lawsuit against Williams seeking unspecified damages. The suit alleged Williams “negligently operated or maintained” her vehicle and caused Ms. Barson to crash into her. It accused Williams of “distracted driving” and running a red light, and also “driving too fast for the conditions, driving carelessly and recklessly.”
Williams’ attorney, Malcolm Cunningham, insisted that the surveillance footage police had obtained would corroborate the tennis star’s account of events even before it was publicly released in a statement to the press.
“I think it will show that Venus Williams entered the intersection on a green light and that her progress was impeded and she had the right by state law to go through the intersection,” Cunningham told the press. “She was correctly entering and exiting that intersection. That’s what it’s going to show.”
Palm Beach Gardens Police Department released the following statement regarding the new evidence:
“After the initial investigation was conducted, new evidence into the incident was located. Video surveillance footage was obtained from a community south of the intersection which recorded the traffic crash,” the statement said. “Based on 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.”
Williams is currently in London competing at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. She extended her run in the tournament on Friday after defeating Naomi Osaka.