The widow of a 78-year-old man killed in a Palm Beach car accident has filed suit against the allegedly at-fault driver: tennis champion Venus Williams.
By Laurence Banville
American tennis star Venus Williams is already advancing at Wimbledon, where the seven-time Grand Slam champion hopes to unseat her sister Serena, but her thoughts, according to reports from the Washington Post, can't be far from the June 9th car crash in which her vehicle allegedly ran a red light, striking another car and inflicting fatal injuries on a 78-year-old man. Now, the wife of Jerome Barson, who died two weeks after the accident, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing Williams of negligence and seeking unspecified civil damages.
Palm Beach Police Find Venus Williams "At-Fault" For Fatal CrashPolice reports pin blame for the fatal crash squarely on the shoulders of the 37-year-old tennis pro. While criminal charges have not yet been filed, investigators say Williams ran a red light, cutting in front of a car driven by Linda Barson. Despite low speeds (reports suggest Williams was only going 5 miles per hour), Barson's husband, Jerome, suffered internal bleeding, a fractured spine and severe organ damage, injuries that would eventually claim the man's life.
Barson's death certificate lists him as a tennis professional working in the Palm Beach area, a hub for tennis coaching where the Williams' sisters have trained since childhood.
Williams' Attorney Contests Police ReportsWilliams' attorney, Malcolm Cunningham, disputes the police department's account of events, maintaining that Williams had a green light - and the right of way - when her car crept into an intersection outside the BallenIsles Country Club, Sports Illustrated writes. Witness reports gathered by officers contradict that claim, describing how Williams' vehicle pushed into the six-lane intersection on a red light, then stopped abruptly after meeting heavy traffic. In her new lawsuit, Linda Barson says Williams' actions gave her no time to avoid a collision. Both she and her husband suffered severe injuries in the resulting crash. Williams was unhurt.
Neither Williams nor Barson are believed to have been under the influence at the time of the crash, according to the New York Times. Williams, however, has been cited for several traffic violations in the past. In 2011, she received a citation in Palm Beach County for driving without proof of insurance. Two years later, the tennis star was hit with another citation, for driving with a suspended license, in the same area.
Wrongful Death Attorneys Face DifficultiesLawyers for Barson are having a hard time securing evidence from the Palm Beach Police Department. In an interview for Good Morning America, attorney Michael Steinger said that, while nearby video cameras had captured the accident, "police ha[d] refused after multiple requests to turn those over." The vehicles involved, Steinger continued, have been impounded.
Shortly after the accident, Williams flew to London, where play in The Championships, Wimbledon tournament, one of professional tennis' four most-prestigious proving grounds, was slated to begin on June 25. She has had her greatest success on the English contest's grass courts, having won the women's singles title there five times in the past.