Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams was reportedly at fault in a car accident that led to the death of Jerome Barson and injured his wife, Linda Barson.
According to the accident report, the crash occurred at 1 p.m. on June 9 at an intersection in Palm Beach Gardens. Linda Barson told police she was driving west on the intersection when Williams, who was reportedly driving an SUV north, suddenly drove into her path. She said she didn’t have time to stop and crashed into Williams’ vehicle.
Williams told police she was trying to drive through the intersection but there was a traffic jam that forced her to slow down to 5 mph and caused her to block the right of way with her vehicle.
Jerome Barson reportedly suffered head trauma in the crash and was taken to a hospital and placed in intensive care. He died two weeks later. Linda Barson was also taken to a hospital with broken bones and other injures, but she survived.
Investigators said Williams was at fault for violating Barson’s right of way. There is no evidence that she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and she reportedly wasn’t distracted by a cell phone at the time of the crash. The incident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed.
Williams released the following statement through her lawyer:
“Ms. Williams entered the intersection on a green light. The police report estimates that Ms. Williams was traveling at 5 miles per hour when Ms. 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.”
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the number of car crashes in the Sunshine State has been increasing at an alarming rate over the past decade, making Florida the number-one state for traffic death increases in the U.S.
In 2016, the department reported 395,521 total car crashes that led to 3,191 traffic deaths. This was a substantial rise from the 374,443 crashes reported in 2015. So far, 2017 has seen 183,602 crashes in the state. With approximately 30,000 crashes occurring per month, Florida will likely meet or exceed last year’s numbers.
Why the sudden increase in traffic accidents? The National Safety Council (NCS) believes increased traffic on Florida’s roadways is to blame. The rise in the state’s economy, cheaper gas prices, and low unemployment rates are all factors that encourage more people to visit the state. More people driving sadly translates into an increase in traffic fatalities.
Younger drivers in the 20 to 29 age range are at the highest risk of getting into a car accident in the state. They are more prone to distracted driving, particularly because of cell phone usage. Heavy traffic and reckless driving also contribute significantly to the number of vehicle crashes in Florida.