Wil­liams ‘stuck in a bad sit­u­a­tion,’ of­fi­cer said

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TERRY SPENCER

FORT LAUD­ERDALE, FLA. — A po­lice of­fi­cer told ten­nis star Venus Wil­liams she likely caused a crash that fa­tally in­jured an el­derly man last month but didn’t cite her, say­ing it ap­peared the ac­tions of a third driver left her in a bad spot, body cam­era video shows.

The Palm Beach Gar­dens po­lice video shows Wil­liams walk­ing un­in­jured and speak­ing calmly to of­fi­cers min­utes af­ter the June 9 crash.

The video also shows the other ve­hi­cle’s pas­sen­ger, 78-year-old re­tired teacher Jerome Bar­son, was con­scious, but bleed­ing and con­fused. It was later deter­mined he had a bro­ken spine and in­ter­nal in­juries. He died June 22.

His wife, driver Linda Bar­son, told of­fi­cers she had a bro­ken arm.

Se­cu­rity video re­leased ear­lier showed Wil­liams was driv­ing straight on a green light as she ex­ited her neigh­bour­hood but a car turn­ing left cut her off, forc­ing her to stop mid­way as she crossed a busy six-lane in­ter­sec­tion. When she restarted, her light had turned red and the Bar­sons’ light had turned green. Their Hyundai sedan plowed into Wil­liams’ Toy­ota Se­quoia SUV.

The body cam­era video re­leased late Thurs­day shows Wil­liams, 37, lis­ten­ing in­tently as she sat in her SUV as Of­fi­cer David Dowl­ing, the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor, ex­plained to her why he be­lieved af­ter in­ter­view­ing her and wit­nesses that she was at fault but wasn’t go­ing to give her a ticket.

“You had a green light, so you had the right of way when you started to exit but be­cause you got stuck in the mid­dle of the in­ter­sec­tion, you lost that right of way,” Dowl­ing told Wil­liams, who was dressed in a white ten­nis shirt and skirt and blue base­ball cap. Linda Bar­son, he said, now had a green light “and had no way of know­ing that you were go­ing to come across.”

Wil­liams asked Dowl­ing, “In a sit­u­a­tion like that, what do you do? Be­cause you can’t back up.”

“Ex­actly,” Dowl­ing replies. “You just got stuck in a bad sit­u­a­tion there. I would just let the in­sur­ance com­pa­nies work it out. I am not giv­ing you a ci­ta­tion.”

Palm Beach Gar­dens po­lice now say the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­mains open and no fault has been as­signed.

Af­ter the crash, Wil­liams com­peted at Wim­ble­don, los­ing in the July 15 fi­nals to Gar­bine Mugu­ruza.

Wil­liams, who has won Wim­ble­don five times, broke down in tears when asked at a tour­na­ment news con­fer­ence about the crash and Jerome Bar­son’s death.

Bar­son’s es­tate filed a wrong­ful-death law­suit against Wil­liams on June 30, seek­ing un­spec­i­fied dam­ages.

“The body cam­era footage clearly sup­ports our orig­i­nal as­sess­ment that Venus is at fault for this ac­ci­dent,” the es­tate’s at­tor­ney, Michael Steinger, said in a state­ment Fri­day.

Wil­liams’ at­tor­ney, Mal­colm Cun­ning­ham, de­clined com­ment through his spokesper­son.


This photo taken from a body cam­era on June 9 shows ten­nis star Venus Wil­liams lis­ten­ing To Davis Dowl­ings, a Palm Beach Gar­dens po­lice of­fi­cer, fol­low­ing a car crash that fa­tally in­jured an el­derly man.

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