Police: Venus Williams at fault in fatal crash; victim’s family sues
The Palm Beach Gardens Police report states the accident occurred on June 9 in Palm Beach Gardens and the victim, Jerome Barson, was a passenger in a car that was driven by his wife, Linda Barson.
The victim’s family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams, alleging negligence.
According to the suit, the impact of the crash caused damage to both vehicles. The Barsons’ 2016 Hyundai Accent was “crushed, the front windshield shattered, the airbags deployed, there was crush damage to the rear on the driver’s side, and the back window was shattered.” Williams’ 2010 Toyota Sequoia “was also severely damaged,” the suit says.
The lawsuit states that Jerome Barson’s injuries included “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive internal organ damage.” He was in the ICU when he died on June 22, which, the lawsuit says, was Linda Barson’s 68th birthday.
His wife’s injuries included, per the lawsuit, a cracked sternum and shattered right arm. She also broke her right wrist, hand and several fingers.
According to the police report, Linda Barson told police she was traveling west in the right lane and approaching an intersection, slowing for a traffic light. According to the report, the light changed to green, and Barson said she drove through the intersection when Williams’ 2010 Toyota Sequoia cut across in front of her car.
Linda Barson said she was unable to avoid crashing into Williams.
Williams, according to the report, told police she was stopped in the median of the intersection because of other traffic. Williams also said she did not see the Barsons’ car when she crossed the intersection. The report says Williams was driving an estimated speed of 5 mph.
“(Williams) is at fault for violating the right of way of (the Barsons),” the report said. There is no mention in the report of Williams being cited.
Jerome Barson was taken to a hospital and died two weeks later. Barson’s wife was also hospitalized but survived.
“Mrs. Barson is suffering intense grief and doesn’t know how she will go on,” said Michael Steinger, Linda Barson’s attorney. “Her husband of 35 years was struck by Venus Williams, who was at fault in a car accident, which ultimately resulted in Mr. Barson being hospitalized 14 days with multiple surgeries which resulted in his death.”
On Friday evening, Venus Williams posted this statement on Facebook: “I am devasted [sic] 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.”
Williams’ attorney Malcolm Cunningham, in a statement to CNN, said: “Ms. Williams entered the intersection on a green light. The police report estimates that Ms. Williams was traveling at 5 mph 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.”
Williams, who just turned 37, is a seven-time Grand Slam champion. She’s in London preparing for Wimbledon, which she has won five times, the last coming in 2008. She is considered one of the favorites to win this year. The tournament at the All England Club begins Monday.
By Jill Martin and Chloe Melas