Venus Williams was involved in a car crash on June 9th that led to the June 22nd death of Jerome Barson, a 79-year-old man who passed away nearly two weeks after he suffered a fractured spine and other internal injuries. The Barson Family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams and their attorney, Michael Steinger, has accused the tennis star of running a red light. Williams, however, claims she entered the intersection on a green light in her 2010 Toyota Sequoia and had to stop in the middle due to backed up traffic, which is when Barson’s Hyundai Accent – driven by Jerome Barson’s wife, Linda Barson – collided with Williams.
The police report estimates that Williams was driving five miles per hour when the accident occurred.
The Palm Beach Gardens Police released a statement last week saying Williams is “at fault for violating the right of way” of the other vehicle, but the accident is still under investigation and Williams has not been charged with a crime. One of the recent developments in the case is Williams’ lawyers were granted an emergency court ruling in their favor to prevent the Barson family from being able to inspect information from their Hyundai Accent that was involved in the accident. According to the Sun Sentinel, records show that both cars are currently being stored at a West Palm Beach tow yard and their “black boxes” could provide important information about the incident in question.
“The on-board data of both vehicles will be critical evidence,” Fort Lauderdale attorney Kevin Yombor wrote. “The actions taken by Plaintiff should not occur until … a procedure is in place to ensure that the data of each vehicle is properly collected.”
Williams’ lawyers argued that the information on those boxes could fail if mishandled by Barson’s team. They requested a protective order until both sides can come to an agreement on a “procedure for the proper collection of all data” when they were given less than 24 hours notice about Barson’s lawyers’ intentions to inspect the data. A hearing has been scheduled on the matter for 2:30 PM on Friday afternoon at Palm Beach County Courthouse, shortly after Williams faces Naomi Osaka at Wimbledon.
Williams was asked about the crash for the first time since it happened earlier this week at a Wimbledon press conference. “There are really no words to describe how devastating and – I’m completely speechless,” Williams said before tearing up. She returned around five minutes later to take questions about her win against Elise Mertens in the opening round.
Williams also released a statement on Facebook on June 30th in which she said, “I am devastated and heartbroken by this accident. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Jerome Barson and I continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers.”
Update: According to ESPN, Police have walked back on the claim that Venus Williams was at fault in the crash. Palm Beach Gardens police say Williams legally entered the intersection but was cut off and struck in the passenger side by a 2016 Hyundai sedan. That set off a chain of events that resulted in the fatal crash with a third car, the one with Jermoe Barson in it. Police released the video on Friday: